Watering Weeds

Posted: June 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, My Thoughts | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

watering weedsThe kids and I worked in the garden today, and they all took turns watering our little vegetable sprouts. My instructions were clear: only water where the plants grow and not in between the rows where the weeds grow.

The kids were concerned that we hadn’t watered the garden good enough.

We came inside for ice cream cones and before long, the sky darkened and it began to rain. I said, “See, God’s watering it now, and he knows what he’s doing. However, we only watered our plants.”

Laila, our oldest and quick to wit, said, “Are you saying that we did a better job than God?”

I knew I was beat. Subconsciously I implied exactly that. But my spirit knew better and I replied, “No honey, I’m saying that God cares about the weeds too.”


Emancipated, But Are You Free?

Posted: June 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

freedom_shackles_chains_Few words have changed the course of American history like “emancipate.” It’s very utterance stirs images of black families being freed from bondage.

I can see entire families who have just received the news colliding in the middle of a field with crazed enthusiasm greater than the celebration pile at the end of a sports championship win. Decades of struggle, toil, and beatings finally come to an end. The fruit of their labor could now be their own.

But for some it was not so. When the Union won and President Lincoln enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners were less than honest. Since slaves weren’t taught to read, some owners told their slaves not that they were free, but that it meant that they could no longer be sold to a new master. This was incredible news to them as it meant their families would no longer be split up and sold to other masters. They could all serve the one master together.

Some worked for years for their old masters before they found out that all along they were truly free to walk off the plantation and make their own way in life.

This Sunday at church, we sang the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. The main words of the chorus are:

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain

In singing these words, I couldn’t help but think about the freedom that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for all mankind. However, a harsh master, the Father of Lies has intentionally misrepresented it to us – and some have believed him.

I cannot imagine what it was like to be a slave in the early years of our great country. The humiliation, degradation, and utter emotional and physical devastation that they underwent is unsurpassed in even my imagination.

But I do know what it means to be hopeless and a slave to sin. I know the weight of those chains well. I know what it means to serve the Master of Deception. The wounds of his whip and the scars of his shackles remain.

But when I put my faith in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. He gave me the right to walk away from sin and never serve its master again. But I fear so many times I look down and see my broken chains and loosed shackles and just stand there. Maybe it’s that after so many years of bondage I don’t know what freedom even means and the Father of lies says, “Yes Chris, you are free. You can be holy and still work for me on the side. You can raise your hands in worship to God on Sunday morning and lower His standards for you in worship to me on Sunday evening.”

Instead of running for the hills with my freedom papers in hand, I choose to stay and work for the same hard master. I believe my old, harsh master’s words over God’s.

Maybe it’s that I’ve restricted the definition of freedom as only a release from bondage and not also as the permission to move toward liberty. Is it possible that I’ve watered down the regenerating power of God in my life as only the power to abstain from sin and not as the authority to be righteous and holy.

Corporately, as a church, have we done the same and in so given ourselves, by an abuse of grace, a way to serve our old master? Have we manipulated freedom’s definition to hold tight to unholy habits that satisfy our flesh yet defile our spirits?

I know I’ve asked more questions than answered, but look hard at your life, and I will mine. We must look in the mirror and ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers. We must examine ourselves regularly to see if we are still in the faith, or out of it. And do so humbly allowing God to confront us where we are wrong and submit ourselves to His correction.

Remember, Jesus’ death was a contract. We’ve been emancipated. We are free, because whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed!


By the Word of Our Testimony

Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

By the Word of Our TestimonyA few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.

See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.

So talk we did.

It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.

My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.

It was powerful.

Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.

One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.

And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.

Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.

Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.

Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)


How Tall Will A Tree Grow?

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

At first glance, the question appears unanswerable. There are too many variables, right? A definite answer across the board seems elusive, but it can be answered.

Whether the tree’s a gargantuan redwood or a Lilliputian size dwarf willow, the answer is the same; a tree will grow as tall as it can.

You may be thinking, “What a cop-out, Mooney,” but hear me out.

Regardless of the breed, each seed has the potential to grow as tall and fruitful as its species will allow. Even if you compare specific species they still grow to different heights depending on a number of factors like soil, temperature, and precipitation.

If the tree is devoid of essential nutrients or exposed to harsh elements its growth will be stunted, but if given a healthy environment it’s free to grow to its fullest potential.

We’re like that.

Each one of us is different, with our own unique personalities and quirks. Each of us has a different level of talent and potential. In order to become what God has intended for us, we have to create an environment that fosters that growth. This includes praying and reading the Bible, not as a matter of obligation but with a desire to know God. It means excluding activities and relationships that aren’t beneficial to this relationship.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.


aka “Fast Food” Jesus

Posted: July 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

What’s your favorite fast food fix? You know, your go to “heart-attack-in-a-sack.”

Mine is a double cheese burger value meal at McDonald’s. Unless it’s breakfast, then it’s a breakfast burrito meal with what they consider to be “hot” sauce. It’s crazy, but I love McDonald’s food.

Once in awhile.

To eat it everyday would not only get old, but be completely unhealthy (see the Super Size Me movie). Plus I always get the same thing, so after a few trips the the Golden Arches, I have to avoid it for a month or so in order to get the craving back.

Sometimes I treat Jesus like that, like a “Fast Food” Jesus.

I get a craving for Him because I love to talk with Him. To quote local Pastor Jeffrey Smith, “I love me some Jesus.”  In these moments I open the Bible to my favorite chapter (Psalm 27) for a minute or turn on Pandora to my favorite station (Skillet/Red/Bride). They’re my go-to spots that satisfy my appetite until I can get in some real quality time.

Now, is having a Fast Food Jesus a bad thing? Not in moderation.

While McDonald’s is food, and it can sustain you for quite some time (I ate it every day for about four years in my teens), it’s not what my body required to run properly. I need more than short bursts of Psalm 27 or turning on “Jesus Radio” while my talk radio is on commercial. In themselves, they aren’t enough to keep my spirit man healthy. There simply is not enough nutrition to be found through the window of a drive thru experience with Jesus.

Only having this type of experience with God can get you in a rut resulting in a mundane Christian life. Break out of the same old routines you have and try something new! There is so much of Jesus to experience and share. Comfortable is OK but new is adventure!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ” ~ Jesus of Nazareth

ANd yeah, you have to tell me what your favorite is. I wasn’t joking about that part.


Hand to the Plough by Sons of Korah

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ever hear a song that’s so deep it haunts you? Enter “Hand to the Plough” by Sons of Korah. It hurts so good. If you don’t care to listen to this acoustic version from their living room, at least read the lyrics which I put in under the video. Oh, and you’ll have to buy the actual CD if you want the song as I can’t find it digitally anywhere. I guess the Outback is still catching up.

If it hits you like it hit me, please share it on facebook, we could all use a little more conviction.

 

Lyrics:

You say that you’re following Jesus
But I don’t think you know what it means ‘
cause all I can see is
you with your dreams saying,
“Jesus, won’t you come follow me?”

He gave you His life He gave you His Spirit
He gave so that you could give too
He said, “Follow me! There’s work to be done”
and “the workers have always been few.”

You say that you’re following Jesus
So follow and no looking back.

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say that you’re following Jesus
But you’re giving me reason to doubt
You pray, “0 Lord bring in the
blind and the lost!”
But you never pray, “Lord send me out!”

The harvest is plenty
but the workers are few
And the reason could
be that the worker is you
So test all your dreams
Your goals and ambitions
Do you really believe that the gospel is true?

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are
drowning outside. (twice)

Imagine you’re a doctor
sent away to the war
Sent by the General to tend to the
poor wounded soldiers
in the battle out there
But all you ever did there
was treat your own wounds
care for your comforts
never leaving the room to go out
to the battle outside

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say you’re alive
but I don’t see you living
you say you’re a servant
But I’ve never seen you serve.
O where are the faithful;
the Lord’s precious few?
O where are the workers?
Does anybody know?

Words and Music by Matthew Jacoby


Review: Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

(Read to the end to learn how to win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos today!)

Buy Here

We’ve all watched monster movies and later that night held the covers close while sleeping with one eye open, hoping the beasts of the night will find other prey to appease their appetites.  In “Night of the Living Dead Christian,” Matt Mikalatos stumbles upon a mad scientist and some monsters during his neighborhood watch.  The ensuing comical mayhem results in Matt helping his neighbor Luther, a werewolf, find a cure for his lycanthropy before he is killed by Borut the monster hunter.

Mikalatos spins an incredible allegory as the unlikely gaggle of heroes battle various monsters and make allies en route to discovering there’s a monster in all of us.

Now, there are those who will see the words werewolf, zombie, and vampire and dismiss this title completely.  To those I say “a spoonful of brains helps the medicine go down.”  Sometimes the only way to confront the difficult questions in our lives is to see them from a different perspective, and that is what Matt Mikalatos offers in “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”  It’s a light hearted delivery system to some heavy-handed self reflection.

The end of the book has a couple of great features including a glossary of monsters and a Q&A with Mikalatos.

I highly recommend “Night of the Living Dead Christian.” I put his writing in the Jon Acuff section of “makes me laugh until I hurt, and it hurts most because he’s talking about me.” This is my first encounter with Matt Mikalatos’s writing, and it’s impressed me enough to warrant me buying his previous title, “Imaginary Jesus,” in which he is also a main character on a mission to find the real Jesus.

Here is Matt and his take on “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”

watch on tyndale.com

You can find Matt’s blog here: http://mattmikalatos.com

And on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/matt.mikalatos

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers who provided this copy to me free of charge for review.  A positive review was not required.

———————————————————————

Awesome! You’ve made it to the end of my review, and I hope it was helpful for you.  So, how do you win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian? There are two ways to enter:

a) Leave a comment about your favorite monster movie and what frightens you the most about it.

b) Share this post on Facebook.  (edit: My tracker is showing the number of shares, but not who shared, so please leave a note if you shared it. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Each of these will get you one entry and you can only enter today (12/15/2011). Tomorrow I will put all of the entries into a hat (Yankees!) and have one of my kids draw a name.  Check back to see if you have won. I will post the winner on the blog and on my facebook page (facebook.com/baddogmooney).


Venom and Song Releases Today!!

Posted: June 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Storm Amazon.com With Us!

venom and song amazon blitz

Mark Your Calendars! Light the torches and gather the pitchforks!

Tuesday, June 22nd at 7pm, EST we will storm the Cybergates of Amazon.com and seek to propel Venom and Song to great heights on the Amazon Bestseller Chart!

Last year, we Blitzed for Curse of the Spider King, and the ranking went from 73,000th to 365th in one 24 hour period! And that thanks only to my generous readers, their friends and family.

This year, we are defining and actual time to shoot for. This will concentrate the effect of book purchases and hopefully launch Venom and Song into the top 100 or even better!

If you are planning to purchase Venom & Song anyway, would you please consider purchasing it from Amazon.com. It’s very important to have the purchases fall between 7-8pm on Tuesday, June 22nd. This maximizes the jump up on the Bestseller list.

Why do this?

Books that hit high on Amazon’s bestseller list get seen by a LOT more people. That exposure tends to generate LOTS more sales, which of course, starts a wonderful cycle. High purchases in the first week of release also tells Amazon that this is a book to push, so Amazon tends to include it in their eMailings, etc. And better still, the opening sales tells the publisher to plug in more marketing muscle to a book that is succeeding. So please consider joining us on June 22nd for the 2nd Annual Amazon BLITZ.

http://www.christopherhopper.com/2010/06/storm-amazon-com-with-us/trackback/


It Hurts So Good – 6

Posted: March 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good | Tags: , , | No Comments »

“Salvation… is a gift, not a wage.” ~ Arthur Wallis

There is so much to be unpacked in that tiny statement.  Here is a link to the book Into Battle, the quote is from page 24.


aka Rock Star Jesus

Posted: February 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I am a head-banging rocker. I always have been, and will always be. I love guitar shredding licks and earth shattering solos. I’ve always dreamed of being able to play like the greats: Satriani, Johnson, Page, Van Halen, Lang, Sanatana. I’ve been to some awesome concerts, thrashed my head around, jumped up and down, waved my arms in the air, screamed until I was hoarse, sat in awe, and raved at how awesome the bands were.

Man I want to be like that! I want the skills, the money, and thousands of people screaming my name.  I want the recognition, and the ability to walk into a room and own it, with everyone centered on me, and my talent.

Then it reminds me of how I sometimes treat my Jesus, aka Rock Star Jesus.

I go to meet my Jesus at church. I listen to the preacher talk of a man who walked on the earth with amazing power to heal people’s bodies and souls. He had incredible wisdom and authority to speak into people’s lives and bring light into their darkness. Then I look at the cross, “Man I want to be like that!”

Just like at the concert, I leave, listen to my new CD, and life goes on just the same.

See, I don’t really want to be like my Rock Star Jesus, I just want what He has.
To really be like the rock star, it takes hours every day, for years, sometimes playing until the fingers bleed. While everyone else was out playing or doing whatever, the rock star was locked in his room running through scales and riffs, learning theory, and emulating his own rock stars. It takes work, hard work, to get to that level. It costs you your life.

And it is no different for me as a Christian. If I truly want to be like Christ, then I have to be like Him, and do what He did. I have to spend time with Him, study His life, techniques, and ways. Do it every day until His nature is my nature. It takes work, hard work to get to that level. It will cost me my life.

Then I am reminded of this little ditty from John 14:23-24:

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I say I love him, but do I obey him? Do I spend time every day making my life a reflection of his?

- God, don’t let me be a Jesus groupie. I don’t want to spend my life chasing Him for just one glance, or just one touch, I want to be like Him. Help me to count the cost, and lay down my life to truly gain His.