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Posts tagged with: worship

Why are there earthquakes and climate/global changes? (A faith perspective)

My soul will never allow me to let science overrule the Word of God.

I think that science and the Word of God can work together beautifully.  However, time has proven, that most choose to honor/worship scientific explanation over God’s explanation.

Why is human nature so against the natural way of God?

If God is the creator of all, then He is the “go to guy” when it comes to trying to understand the why and how of things.  While reading the Bible this morning I was reminded of God’s design of things and it made me want to write about what this post’s theme is.  Here is the simple passage I read…

“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,earthquake
    at the presence of the God of Jacob.
He turned the rock into a pool of water;
    yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.”

Pslam 114:7-8

When the earth trembles, it’s an earthquake.  The rocking and rolling of the very foundation we rely so stably on.  I have experienced an earthquake while in California.  It is a strange and insecure feeling when the solid floor beneath your feet begins to rock and roll.  Insecurity takes over when the foundation is moving beneath your feet!   When insecurity starts to rule, we naturally start grasping for answers.  Our culture and nature have taken us to rely deeply on science to give us those answers. Science seems to have stolen the throne from the Creator…the Father…the wold party host, the know all.

People love science, because it seems to give secure answers to questions we worry about.   But, science uses human knowledge to understand the mysterious and difficult things that God has created.  I don’t blame anybody for being curious.  I don’t blame people for desiring security even if its the false kind.

I’m a why guy, so I am always thinking through the “layers of why” that ultimately are the cause of anything.  So, I think God smiles at science.  Why?  Because God is the ultimate parent.   Any good parent loves to see his/her children play hide and seek during a party gathering.   I think it gives our Father in Heaven great pleasure to see his children seeking after the things that He has hidden.  I think He hid things to keep us busy during this giant earthly party we all attend.  The childlike nature in me sees this world as a giant hide and seek game.  Even Jesus said He came to “seek”.

It all seems fun…right up to the point where the Father no longer gets the credit for his masterminded plan for the party.  The party gets going to the point where the party attenders no longer desire the party planner to be a part of the party. This kind of party never ends well.

A hide and seek game can get out of control when the planner, who has the answers, is no longer around to share the hints.  It can become a form of a quiet riot, where the party bully shouts…

“you gotta fight for your right to paaarrrrttt-ay!” 🙂

 Without the party planner and host, the party becomes unpredictably dangerous, and the bully tends to take over. Depending on what the bully believes and does, is what sets the tone for the rest of the party and party attenders.  If you don’t agree with the bully, then you are also asked to leave the party, or at the very least, belittled.  Most people love a party, so they don’t question the bully for fear of being asked to leave.

I am in awe of the Creator of the party, for allowing his creation to push Him out.  That is a loving God who honors the choices of His creation.  God is not a bully.  God doesn’t force Himself on anyone at the Party.

If we ask God, the great party planner, to step out of the party … then He steps out… and then we are left to the mercy of the bully.  Bully’s don’t have much mercy.  It can be brutal to live in the shadow and the dominance of the bully.

Who is the bully in this “One Nation under Godlessness”?  The bully is the one who controls the information outlet.  The bully is the one who has the ability to get the most attention in our homes and minds.  You decide who that currently is.  I think it is obvious.  But I won’t be a bully.

So…here’s my deal…

I’ve never been a party fan.  I would prefer to leave the party early.   Once I have honored the party host and arrived to show the host my appreciation, say hello to some good friends, and catch up a little….I then prefer to leave.

In this great earth party I’m talking about, the host isn’t welcome anymore.  If the host isn’t present at the party, then I have no desire to attend the party and listen to the bull of the bully.  I despise the bully.   I’ll call the police on the bully when the party gets out of control.  I’ll throw the bully under the bus and point out where the party has gotten dangerous and is causing damage to the people at the party.  At my worst/best…I will walk into the party again just to get in the face of the bully and call his bluff.  I hate this kind of party and therefore I don’t get drunk on the bull of the bully.

What about you?

Are you drunk from the bully at the host-less party?  Have you drunk the spiked kool-aid to the point where you won’t even pick up the party manual anymore? Are you so drunk from all the bully’s bull that you don’t even remember the party host?  Have you taken your drunkenness to the extent that you have allowed the bully to attach you to the IV where you now just allow the drip-drip-drip of information, not found in the party owner’s manual, to fill your veins and control your mind?  Have you become a host-less party junkie?  Are you a part of the quiet riot?

I write the analogy above to say this…have you, even unknowingly, asked God to step out of the party and bought the bull?  If  you have questions and curiosity, do you first turn to the drip-drip-drip of the science and the bully, or to the Party planner’s manual?

God, the Party Planner, is so kind and good that when He was asked to leave the party, He made sure to leave the Party Manual behind.  The Bible is the manual to all things life.  If God did the hiding and the creating of the mysteries that keep us so curious, then He also gave us the “secrets and hints” book….The clue book that leads us to the thrilling discovery of truth.  The truth to how this party is supposed to be run.

So, back to  my point about earthquakes.  Can you really give me the why behind an earthquake?  Do you rely on the bully and his/her information to give you the why?  The bully of science is loaded with answers that tease you to thinking you have security.  Don’t buy the bull.  I have no security about my next 5 minutes.  So..I trust in the party planner.  My security is in His hands.  All my answers are in His hands.

Why wouldn’t you seek your answers about why an earthquake happens from the creator of the earthquake?  He gave you a manual with answers to your questions.  Or has the bully got you to thinking that the manual is fiction?   “Drip-drip-drip-drip-drip…  … … … … … … … Please…pull out the IV and seek the owners manual.

According to the passage above, the earth trembles because of the presence of the Lord.

The following passages in Scripture are accounts of actual earthquakes and why they happened.  You read and you decide. (Just click the link to read the Bible verses)  Put science away for a few and just soak in the owners manual.   There are 9 earthquakes clearly mentioned in the Bible…it could be more…but I only picked the very obvious earthquakes.  I will only give the references for you to click on or look up in your own Bible and you can choose to read the individual accounts or not.  I will also share a quick paragraph below that summarizes the why of the earthquakes.

Genesis 7:11

Exodus 19:18

Numbers 16:31-33

1 Samuel 14:13-15

1 Kings 19:11

Matthew 27:51-54

Matthew 28:2

Acts 4:31

Acts 16:26

A review of the 9 earthquakes listed above shows that virtually the entire story of the Bible can be summarized by its connection to acts of God.  If you think about the stories above…I’m sure the scientist of the day tried to explain why the earthquakes were happening….they probably blamed it on global warming! 🙂 LOL  But, only a few knew the real reasons as to why.  We are fortunate to have the historical record in the Bible…the Owner’s Manual.  The specific Biblical events emphasized by earthquakes are Noah’s Flood, the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, authentication of the leadership of Moses, the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem, the resurrection of Jesus, the ministry of the apostles and the church.

Earthquakes have been used by God to highlight some of the most important events of world history.  The three main purposes for biblical earthquakes are judgment, deliverance, and communication. The lesson seems obvious to me—significant things in “nature” happen as an act of God to tell us something important.  God is always speaking and working and demonstrating His power and love.  Are we paying attention anymore?  Have we asked the creator of this giant world/party to shut up and leave the party?

In our fast-paced, man-centered, technology-based society of the twenty-first century, God would have us pause and consider His world party leadership nature.  His purpose…His plan.  Whether you like it or not…whether hundreds of thousands are hurt or killed in these earthquakes…God is still God.  Jesus is still Jesus, and if Jesus is who He says He is…then He is returning whether you like Him or not…believe in Him or not.  He will have the final say.

Are you sure you want to rely on tectonic plates and science as the main reason for earthquakes?

Might God be trying to say some things, while too many are no longer listening?

Are you regularly using the owners manual/Bible to understand how the world, nature, global changes, your personal relationships, and even your very own heart, mind and soul, work? … Or are you going to rely on science and human wisdom?  (I warn you to not rely on human wisdom…The Bible says something about that too…read it here 1 Corinthians 1:18-29

It is possible to use both…but both only work together when they invite the creator of the party to continue to lead the party.

Are you regularly spending time reading the owner’s manual to how this Giant Blue Planet and the little tiny things that live upon it, work?

The creator and His one and only Son want to move into your soul and lead your life and all your understanding.

If you let them in…you will never be the same and you will never view the world the same.

If you have asked God to leave your world…please invite Him back in.

God loves you….so do I.  If I can help you with anything, just ask.  I’ll do my best.

I’d like to end with this Bible passage… Pslams 117 (The shortest chapter in the Bible)…unlike this blog post! 🙂

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.
    Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
    the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!”


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 15 (Mt.5:27) “Adultery/Lust”


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27

DRINK IT IN:
I think Jesus had the gift of being direct. Wouldn’t you agree? It doesn’t seem like Jesus’ listeners ever had to wonder what He was thinking, because He just said it. I find this trait refreshing about people. Oh, it can be irritating, but to me, its better to know what’s going on inside the head of someone, than to wonder. Which do you prefer and why?

Jesus was being very direct here. He was leaving nothing up in the air for interpretation alterations. He made it very clear that Adultery is sin and He took it one step further. He said to even look lustfully upon a person is adultery as well. We should all be in agreement that “Actions speak louder than words.” The action of adultery is sin and evil. But Jesus takes this issue deeper. I think Jesus loved to talk about foundations and origins. In my opinion, Jesus was warning us about the dangers of what goes unspoken in our lives yet impacts us. The thoughts, feelings, emotions, mental images, that are alive inside our brains and hearts, are just as serious to God as real actions. In my Hydrate post #12 titled “Words,” I wrote about how Jesus says that the WORD itself is not where the evil resides. The evil resides inside the heart and becomes evident through the spoken word. Jesus is saying that what is in the heart ends up being spoken as words. So it is in this case with adultery. It starts in the heart. It starts internally. Its starts as a secret. I don’t know who originally said it, but someone once said, “a secret is the beginning of sin.”

Jesus doesn’t give us any “wiggle room” here. (As I typed the word wiggle, my mind just sang the lyrics “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle…Yeah” to the popularly funny and inappropriate song sung by LMFAO) And that just proves a point I am trying to make. When we see and hear and think about things it is a natural thing to internalize them. It just happens. I have only heard that song on the radio a few times, but its inside my head now and probably always will be. And this brings me right to the point I want us to have great clarity about. Before I go there, let me pause and ask…Do I have to go any further about Adultery being wrong? Just in case you are trying justify any sexually deviant behavior outside your relationship with your spouse, as non-adulterous, I want to clarify. Sex with another person, who is not your spouse of the opposite sex, is adulterous. It is Adultery. Period. The End. Done. If you desire to argue that…there is something deeply wrong in you. Stop it.

Let’s get to clarity as we go through this writing. I have a question for you. Just because I thought about the inappropriate song by LMFAO, did I sin? The answer is no. Because to have an initial thought about something is not sin. You would have to remove your brain to not have this happen. To have an initial thought about something like this, is called temptation. TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN. Temptation to sin, is not sin. Let’s make this practical to the subject at hand, adultery.

Jesus says that if we even look upon a person with lust in our heart, we have committed adultery. So what does it mean to “look upon a person with lust in our heart?” Have you noticed that Jesus never says it is a sin to lust? Go back and look up the verses. Lust, by itself is not sin. For if this is the case, then Lusting for Life would be sin. Lusting for Holiness would be sin. According to Wikipedia, “Lust is an emotional force that is directly associated with the thinking or fantasizing about one’s desire.” Did you get that? Please read it one more time. I can lust for God and other things. Its fascinating to me that we link lust with sex, but lust can be linked to anything holy OR unholy. Lust, in and of itself is simply a desire that God created us to have. It’s closely linked with passion and drive. So, here is the deal. WHAT we lust upon makes it holy or not. Please agree with me on this. I know its a different kind of thinking, but its important to have clarity on this. I speak with men, frequently, who feel like they are cursed, because of the strong desire that they have inside of them. When I explain to them that they have the gift of lust inside of them, and every person does, and that they need to manage and guide that lust, IT FREES THEM! There is a popular book out called “Every man’s battle.” I know the premise of the book and how its about helping men conquer sexual temptation. I would just prefer that the book be titled, “Every man’s Gift!” Desire is a gift! Desire is a synonym of lust. To call this desire, a battle, is to set a premise that there is something wrong with the way God created man. I know the authors did not intend this reality, but I have visited with many men who believe they have a curse, and it is titles like this book that instigate such feelings. So, does it bother you that I say that, “lust is a gift that we must manage…not a battle that we fight.” Do you sense the difference? Its a little tweak with a big difference. My definition gives a man an adventure to live, the standard definition gives a man a “disease” that he hopes he can survive with.

To remove lust/desire from a man would be to remove the engine from a Corvette. The engine is the power that drives the corvette to achieve the great feats that it can. To remove the engine from a corvette, because it’s too dangerous…now that would be a sad day! Do not forget that God created man with feelings, emotions, strengths, desire and then He created woman to compliment and team with man. God then created this incredible thing called sex for us to enjoy and to use as a form of creation that gives us little people that grow into big people and the cycle continues! Managed in a holy and honorable way and It remains exciting and thrilling. It most definitely is not a curse. Sin is the curse, not desire/lust. Lust unmanaged and focused on ungodly things is sin, but not lust itself. Again, we can lust for God and life! Let me create a hypothetical situation. Its not really hypothetical, because every man and maybe every woman has experienced it. I am going to make this hypothetical situation about a man who sees a beautiful woman walk by. Does the man notice that the she walked by? The only way he didn’t notice, is if this hypothetical situation happened in a hospital room and the man is in a coma! But I think He still would notice! LOL. Let’s imagine that this beautiful woman walked by, as the man was sitting in an outdoor patio by himself, having lunch. Once the man notices that she walks by, what happens next is critical, when it comes to spiritual health. If the man begins to mentally undress her and think of doing sexual acts with her, then he has taken his lust and turned it into adultery. But, if the man, as he notices her, takes his eyes off of her and says a prayer like this, “Lord, you are a wonderful creator, please help me to appreciate you by giving you thanks for how you have created woman, I do not want to dishonor you by worshipping the created, but you the creator,” now, he has not committed adultery and he has actually turned a sexually tempting scenario into a form of worshipping to God. There is no doubt that God was honored in that hypothetical situation.

The man managed his desire/lust. This management is a holy thing that honors God. Lust for the Creator, not the created. Big difference. Let me reinforce it this way. Thoughts aren’t sin, evil thoughts are. Sex isn’t sin, sexual immorality is. Testimony isn’t sin, false testimony is. Alcohol is not sin, drunkenness is. Money is not evil, love of money is. Taking naps is not evil, slothfulness is. Actions are not sin, evil actions are. Material goods are not sin, greed is. Anger is not sin, anger out of control is sin. I could go on and on. Please understand this, and if you do, it will free you to live like you’ve always dreamed as a Christian.

Jesus obviously hates sin. I also think that Jesus’ greatest focus was on the origins of sin. It is simple wisdom to want to prevent the action of sin by managing the seed of internal thoughts. Thoughts are the seeds that grow into a full fledged plants that produce fruit. Jesus is challenging us to focus on the seed and the plant will grow from there. He says, adultery is sin, but even thinking lustfully upon a person is sin as well. Be careful what you do with the God created lust that lives inside of you. Manage it well.

SWEAT IT OUT:
Do you have any Secrets that left unchecked can become sin?

What did you wake up thinking about this morning?

If you continue to dwell on what you woke up thinking about, will it lead to holiness or evil?
What “controversial” things do you have in your life that if taken too far become evil? (Things that tend to “stir” up controversy are Alcohol, sex, power, money, tattoos, materialism, _______________________, __________________________. (What am I leaving out?)

Today, I challenge you to guard your thoughts. They are the origins of Holy or Evil behavior. A great passage of Scripture to help you do this is

Philippians 4:8-9…
“8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your THOUGHTS on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. THINK about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. THEN the God of peace will be with you.”

What a challenge!
Lust for it.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 13 (Mt.5:23-24) “Reconcile”

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24

DRINK IT IN:
What the heck does RECONCILIATION really mean?

I think we can all agree on, for the most part, what Jesus is saying about offering a gift at the altar. The whole purpose of offering a gift at the altar is to give thanks to God for how much He loves us and for giving us the gift of forgiveness. Therefore it is hypocritical to offer a gift of thanksgiving for forgiveness and at the same time hold forgiveness back from others in our lives or have unreconciled relationships. Its a double standard.

Do you agree with me that God will not honor double standards? So, when the offering plate is passed and you are withholding forgiveness from anyone, don’t give until you have pursued forgiveness or have given forgiveness. If the communion tray is coming your way during a worship service, same thing, don’t partake until you have pursued reconciliation. If you are about to preach or teach the Word of God. If you are about to Lead Worship or sing on the vocal team. If you are about serve in the Children’s ministry. If you are about to work in your Church’s cafe, fold bulletins, make phone calls for the church, serve in the youth ministry, stack chairs, sweep floors….ANYTHING that you do for your local church as a form of work or volunteering is a form of “offering a gift at the altar” of God. Its ALL worship. Any worship that has a double standard will be rejected by God.

Bottom line…if we offer gratefulness and love and repentance to God without offering it to others around us, God wont accept our offering. Paul actually warns us in his letter to the Corinthians that if we take communion in an unworthy manner, it is the reason some of us are sick and even have died. This is a serious matter. Let me reinforce this notion a little stronger with a verse from the Bible. Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is big deal. Unforgiven people do not enter Heaven. If we don’t forgive others or apologize to others then we won’t be forgiven by God. Please do not be unforgiven. I love the passage of 1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Please make sure you are offering forgiveness to those who have hurt you. And make sure you are apologetic and repentant to those whom you have harmed. You can’t control how they respond to you, you can only control yourself. I would like to teach on forgiveness here, but there will be a better time in a future Hydrate Devotion. Let me say this before I move on to the subject at hand. Granting somebody forgiveness is more for yourself than for the person who harmed you. Giving forgiveness allows you to let it go and move on with your life. I love what Mother Theresa said about forgiveness. She said, “If you can’t forgive your offender, its like drinking poison and hoping it will kill them.” Think about that. More to come on forgiveness in the near future.

Back to point…
I want to get to something critical that most people have forgotten about. Reconciliation. What exactly is it? My immediate thoughts about reconciliation lead me to think about extreme situations. For instance. What does it mean for a woman who has been raped, to reconcile with her rapist? What does it mean for a child who has been sexually abused by a family member to reconcile with that family member? What does it mean for a man, who has faced harm and heartache from another man in his life, to be reconciled with him? If you have been fired and hold bitterness towards your previous boss, what does it mean to be reconciled? If you have gone through a very nasty divorce and enormous amounts of pain were experienced in the marriage and divorce, what does it mean to be reconciled? If someone murdered your family, what would it mean to reconcile with the murderer? Do see how this issue isn’t so simple?

So what does it mean to forgive and reconcile? Now the Cynic in me wants to write out the typical “Sunday School Answer.” This answer would go something like this, “Well, Trent, you know that Jesus was harmed by you because of your sins. Even though you hurt Jesus, He went to the cross for you anyway. And, Trent, even while you abused Him some more while He was on the cross, He said, “Father forgiven them, for they don’t know what they are doing. So, Trent…when someone harms you, you must ‘Let Go and Let God’ and everything will be alright, so let it go and go in peace.”

I wish it were that easy.

So, let me take a shot at this reconciliation idea, and hopefully when its done, we will have an answer that is actually helpful to us all.

I think we first have to define reconcile. I would like to say that reconcile means “to resolve a problem to the approval of one or both parties involved.” You may ask, “why not both parties?” In the case of a murderer, sexual abuser, and many other kinds of offenders, I don’t think we can resolve the issue to the approval of both parties. In my opinion, when an abuser breaks the law with any extreme case of harm, they quit acting “human” and they may still be human, but in their non-human behavior they lose their rights to decide the resolution process that is necessary. In other words, some offenses are so harmful to others that the offender loses his/her rights as a human to decide for themselves what is best for moving forward towards reconciliation. They must receive swift and strong punishment for their non-human behavior. This offender, in their choice to harm, also gave away their rights to determine their future fate. (Crime never pays…it only kills, steals and destroys.) In fact, nearly every offender…no matter the offense, loses their immediate rights to help set what happens next in the relationship. In their choice to sin and cause harm, they become disqualified to dictate what happens next, and will find themselves at the mercy of other people, especially the person they abused/offended/harmed.

So what is reconciliation in these extreme cases? The answer is really left in the hands of the offended party or the hands of the law, in which, the offended party still has most of the influence and power. i.e. They can Press charges, seek revenge, grant forgiveness, etc.

The individual doesn’t have to have any kind of relationship with their offender into the future if they do not want to. The offender might even be a family member, but that doesn’t mean the one who is harmed has to be fully present in the offenders life again…and then call that reconciliation. (Reconciliation does not necessarily means physically present in each others lives again.)

I think RECONCILIATION means that both parties will stand before God someday in full knowledge that God gave the free gift of His only Son to forgive their sins. These individuals, in order to stand before God RECONCILED, must have either apologized for their offense and changed their behavior (repented), or granted forgiveness to their offender. What happens from this point on between these two parties is solely up to any one of the two parties. If either paty freely chooses not to have any further relationship with the other, then that is still reconciliation and is good.

What reconciliation does do, is fully removes, bitterness, anger, hurt, revenge, or anything else even close to those evil characteristics and actions, but it does not mean that full physical restoration into each other’s lives is essential for reconciliation to take place.

Some might argue that Jesus is not that way…even after we abused Him, He forgave and His kind of reconciliation is full reinstatement of relationship, physical presence and a continued healthy relationship with one another.

I would reply to that argument that this is the ultimate end goal result of any abusive situation. I think everybody would agree that it would be a miraculous and beautiful thing for this kind of reconciliation to take place. However…People are not Jesus! Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is the ultimate kind. Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is one directional. By this I mean that Jesus, after being abused, laid down His own life to pay for the sins of His offender and this was to Honor the Father more than anyone else. Then, Jesus took up His life at the resurrection and proceeded to approach His offenders/us with an open invitation to reconcile by actually moving into our hearts and living in us, if we the offender accepted His offer. This is the PERFECT and ULTIMATE form of reconciliation and is only possible if the offended party offers it. However it is not the only kind of reconciliation. It is a very different kind of reconciliation when one of the two parties in the relationship is The Perfect Son of God! We live in a fallen world and the relationships we have amongst one another are between two fallen and imperfect people. This fact creates a different kind of reality and creates different kinds of acceptable forms of reconciliation.

So, whatever the example of hurt relationships, offenses and abuses above…full reconciliation does not mean that
both parties have to be “in” each others lives physically again. It DOES mean that somewhere, somehow, and sometime there is/was facilitated a peaceful ENDING of the conflict. There is a mutual acknowledgment that “things” are okay and everybody will do well to move forward with their lives. (To the offenders…prison or other consequences is moving forward.)

Reconciliation also means that there are now firm boundaries that have been set in place, and frankly, both parties do not have to be in agreement, or even like the new boundaries. But boundaries will have been established and they will be followed. The reality is, when boundaries have to be set, it is only the offending party that doesn’t like the new boundaries. Boundaries are set to protect and honor the offended from being hurt again AND they are set to protect the offender from harming again. Reconciliation does not mean free from all consequences. Only offending parties/law breakers/abusers desire to have no consequences. New boundaries are what wise people do as a consequence of evil behavior happening to them. It would be wise to warn the “boundary setter” to guard the motives of “why” the boundaries are being set. If the boundaries are set as a form of revenge or getting even, then true forgiveness hasn’t taken place, and now the boundary setter is beginning to have sinful reactions. This is not reconciliation in any form. However, if boundaries are not set, the abuser/offender might still expect to be in control of your new “reconciled” relationship. You need to set and enforce the boundaries of the new relationship. When it comes to actually setting boundaries and trying to decide what are good boundaries and what are boundaries that go to far, its important to ask a few of questions.

SWEAT IT OUT:
a.) Do you want your abuser/offender in close proximity of you again? (Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, Spiritually, or Socially?)
b.)What do you wish to gain by bringing your abuser/offender back into your life?
c.) Will your life improve by having this person back in your life?
d.) Is the abuser/offender aware, with total clarity, your desires in the answers to the questions above?

Its tiring isn’t it? God never intended for our world and our relationships to be this way. But they are and we need to become wiser in how we deal with it all. This is a serious issue or Jesus would have never taught about it.

If you have been abused by anyone with any kind of abuse, if you are carrying hurt, anger and lack of forgiveness in your heart and life, and you think you can deal with it all on your own. You will be in big trouble. I want to encourage you to seek out a well known and credible Christian Counselor and ask for help. Pay for help. The cost of not handling any of this right is way more expensive than paying somebody by the hour to help you do it right!

Do you have anybody in your life, that when you think of them, you know you have an unreconciled relationship with them? If you do, either apologize for your sinful behavior or tell them you are forgiving them for their sinful behavior. (Remember…you cannot control how they respond, you can only be responsible for your own action.) If you cannot work on reconciliation yet, then please don’t ask God to forgive you for your sins, because He won’t hear your prayer. Don’t give anything to God, for it won’t be accepted. Don’t pretend to be holy because it will be a double standard. Does this sound too harsh? It is harsh. It’s harsh because ETERNITY is at stake and your soul is in the balance. SEEK RECONCILIATION NOW. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT.

Keep working on your relationships. It is a daily battle that will rage on until your very last breath. It is a worthwhile and holy battle. This battle is all to often a battle that is not about flesh and blood as much as it is about what is called Spiritual Warfare waging all around you. I pray you will do your very best to not have sinful reactions when other people sin against you, but you will forgive, set new boundaries and have a new reconciled relationship. Remember that reconciliation has many different forms. It is easier said than done. Remember this…Hurt people…hurt people. So when someone hurts you, try to discover how they have been previously hurt and are simply having sinful reactions in that hurt. Make sense? Hurt people, hurt people.
When you are hurt…don’t have sinful reactions and repeat the hurt. Break the vicious cycle by seeking “RECONCILIATION.”

I can’t think of anything harder in life to do, than reconciliation.
Let’s end with this…
Hurt people, hurt people.
Forgiven people, forgive people.
Which one are you.
Its a choice.
Choose well…according to Jesus it has eternal consequences.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 10 (Mt.5:14-16) “Light”


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever seen light run from Darkness? Have you ever seen a strip of darkness piercing through the middle of a light room? No Way. But, we know what it looks like to be in a dark room and see a glance of light streaming through the darkness. This “sword” of light always strikes a gleam of hope in my heart. It always provides a touch of comfort. It lets me know that in the middle of darkness there is something on the outside that is piercing the darkness.

In this simple teaching, Jesus is using some common sense word pictures to make people think about how He created us to be. Let me rewrite Jesus’ teaching in a way that I think Jesus meant it to literally be.
“You–My followers–are the light of the world. You are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Don’t become a Christian and be secretive about it. Instead, SHINE ON, and give light to everyone in the world. Yes, you as Christians, let your light shine before the whole world, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I love how Jesus just “rubs in” what is supposed to be the brightness and greatness of a Christian. He is saying that we as Christians GLOW. We should glow and it makes no sense to give our lives to Him and then hide it.

My fear in this kind of talk from Jesus is that it will empower the wacko. Nowhere does Jesus say in this passage that you should shout out negative, hurtful, hateful things from across the street at people who are far from Him. In fact that would cause Kingdom damage. That would push people farther from God. That would actually be contributing to darkness. Peter wrote in the Bible, that we are always supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, but we should do it with gentleness and respect. So…Don’t be a wacko. Be light. Be love. Be peace. Be patience. Be joy. Be kindness. Be goodness. Be faithfulness. Be gentleness. Be self-control. Be respectful. Be like Jesus. Be light!

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are you being secretive, in any way or form, about being a follower of Jesus?
If you are, what are you afraid of?

Think of somebody today that is “stuck in a dark room” of sin/shame/evil/hopelessness/depression/loneliness/etc. Be a piercing streak of light in their life and help them smile and shine. Give them a taste of Heaven today by being the light that Jesus referred to.

If you behave this way. If you put the high-beams of your faith on for all the world to experience…they WILL give PRAISE to THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.

What a blindingly halogenic 🙂 objective for today…
Did you notice the word halogenic has the word halo in it?
SHINE ON.


Ugandan Sunday! Whoa….

What words can I possible use to explain such an ovewhelming day in Africa? Let’s get right to it.
We got to sleep in a little today because the church service didn’t start until 10am. Breakfast was at 8 and then we gathered as a whole group to get our plan. The group of nearly 60 split up into 4 groups to go to 4 differnt villages to experience and participate in a Church Worship Service with the Ugandan people. I chose to attend the largest worship venue and village because I wanted to see a large gathering and how it all goes every Sunday. I chose to go to True Vine Ministries where nearly 1000 people gathered in a Church building made of concrete and an A-Frame roof that had a few ceiling fans stirrin the humid and deoderant-less air!!!

Wow is an understatement. I’ll start by saying that the worship service started at 10 and we got out at 1:30 and everybody kept saying it was as short service. They said that often it can go until 4 pm. I have never seen such joyful and energetic worship music. Dancing, jumping, screaming, and praise. Very good music. Done with great quality and authenticity. I know you’ve heard it before…that high pitched very fast tongue roll…la,la,la,la,la…if you don’t know what that sounds like, ask Kelli my wife to do a rendition for you. She an nail it!

But really…I am sitting in a service with some of the poorest people in the world and they have nothing but praise and thanksgiving and joy for the Lord.

The most adrenalin rushed moment for me was when…without hardly any warning the pastor of the Church said that we are going to have an Amerian Pastor preach this morning. I thought to myself…”I wonder who that is going to be?” Well it turned out that when we broke up into 4 different groups that morning…I was the only pastor in our group. Yep! Imagine. 1000 Africans joyful and praising God that the “white-boy” is going to deliver a message! Gulp. I walked up…pretended like I knew what I was going to do and in sheer panic mode dug into my mind of past messages and chose to just begin with Genesis Chapter 1. I can only say that God came through for me as the Scriptures say He will. We had fun and I encouraged the crowd and found myself getting into rythym with my translator. What a rush. All I can say is, Thank You God for such a great honor.

After the service we hurried back to the hotel and freshened up a bit and then headed off to a local Ugandan Hospital. I was not prepared for this experience. When we arrived we found nice looking buildings on the outside and somewhat cleanliness on the inside but it was basically a military style barracks where rows of beds were filled with sick and dying people. There is no medicine. Two doctors rotate through the wards only two times per week. So we showed up with toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes, and some hard boiled eggs and water. Oh, how grateful the people were. We explained that we were not doctors but we just were Americans who traveled over to serve them and show them how much we loved them and wanted to know if we could pray for them. They were so grateful.

The first patient we prayed for first needed some immediate medical attention. It so happened that 3 guys with us were EMT’s and had a few supplies with them in thier backpacks. The man we first came across had just been hit by a car in the leg and had nasty 4 inch wide and 8 inch long chunk of flesh missing from his lower leg around the chin bone. When we removed the nasty wrapping there was no broken bone, but this huge wound. All the guys could do was ask me to hold the man down and try to tell him he was okay while they took care of the wound…without any pain medicine. The intense pain made the man scream, but he knew we were trying to help him. Once we got the wound cleaned up, we gave him one antibiotic pill and some water and prayed he would be healed and get some rest. As I sit in the comforts of my hotel room, I know he is still there in a hospital with no medicine, no glass in the windows and no screens. The EMT guys went back there tonight with some more medical supplies, pain medicine and some blankets. Other patients we prayed for were dying of Aids. One man had what could only be described as a flesh eating disease all over his legs and he was begging us to cure him. All we could do was ask God to cure him and leave him in the hands of God. Believe it or not…the man was comforted and grateful we were there. I feel so helpless in the whole situation. Another man had Malaria…the #1 killer of people in Africa (damn mosquitos). All we could do was pray. Another man had massive adominal pain and on and on and on. When we finished in the Male Ward we had a few minutes to go over to the Children’s Ward. We announced that we were not doctors but Christians and we loved them and wanted to pray for them and give them a few supplies. Well, due to time we could only pray one big prayer for everybody. The translator announced that I was a pastor and that I would pray one prayer for everybody and that God would be okay with that. When he announced this…all the desperate moms and dads grabbed their sick children out of the cribs and rushed up to me and held thier babies out to me asking me to help them and touch them and pray for them. I was so overwhelmed. What could I do. I just looked up to God and cried out a prayer for God to come through and His will be done. The parents were so thankful and I walked away feeling so….(words can’t describe.)

When we were finished there, we went back to the hotel to clean up. I have never scrubbed my hands and arms so hard. That hospital is a place of desperate sickness where diseases of biblical proportions exist. I believe God will heal many of those patients. The presence of God here is real and obvious. Its hard to explain.

We then headed off to an orphanage where 5 years ago a 70 year old man in Conneticut retired from is engineering career and chose to move to Africa and serve orphans who have lost their parents from Aids. He started with one orphan 5 years ago and no property. Today at 75 and several acres and the best kept facilities and yard I have seen in a long time he now has 50 orphans with the age range of between months to 17 years old. These orphans gathered in a small room with the 30 who chose to go. Imagine nealy 80 people in a room that was a small living room. These 50 kids sang to us for 30 minutes. The room was mostly concete so you can imagine the acoustics of 50 vibrant and joyful African children crowded together, swaying together and singing at the top of their lungs. I wept as I heard 50 orphans who have no parents because of Aids sing over and over…”God is so good….God is so good…God is so good…He’s so good to me.”

I will never be the same.

Its 1am and I have to get up at 6:30 tomorrow. I must get to bed.

I must say this at the risk of offending some. Please don’t be offended and simply try to understand my point. Its a good point if you think about it deeply.

All day today I heard the most desperate and poor people of the world sing worship songs to Jesus Christ. The only slow song I heard all day was these orphans singing about how good God is.
Nothing slow…or singing about broken desperation.

Every song was full of gratitude and praise and thankgiving. Full of energy and dancing for joy.

What is it about so many Christian songs that are originating out of America that are so full of sorrow and desperation and brokenness? We can do better. We are so blessed.

If you are reading this…I am honored. I pray that you will make a journey to Africa.

You need Africa. I would have never thought that I needed Africa more than Africa needs me. But its true.

I will never be the same. I must come back. Our churches must do more.
To whom much is given…much is required.

Good night.
I pray your Sunday is a blessed one.
Trent