Sticks and Stones

Posted: January 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

the words we say mean somethingWe are taught as kids, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And it makes sense, right? By repeating this mantra, mocking, jeering, and teasing are magically reduced to fairy dust and troll farts, never to harm you or another soul again.

The barrage of negative, condescending talk from others continues into our adult lives at work, home, and unfortunately even in the Church. And again “Sticks and Stones” runs through our minds, too childish to escape our lips.

But it’s a smokescreen. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

We build walls to keep people at a distance, but still the words cut. What was meant to be spell of protection from insult and injury becomes a mask. Words used as weapons slip past our defenses and we force a smile.

But it’s a ruse. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

And we too use those same harsh words at times. We relieve ourselves of responsibility by calling it sarcasm. Do you know what that word means? Is it something harsh, yet funny? No. The word means literally, “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.”

But we’re “just saying,” right? Wrong. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What we say to and about others, means something.

Is this a tongue lashing directed at you, my reader? Not intentionally. I wrote this for me, the guy who claims sarcasm as “just another service I offer free of charge.” It is for me when my wife Beth and I are exchanging words of disagreement or when I tease her in what I think is a playful manner. It’s for me when my kids disappoint me with their behavior (because God knows they couldn’t have learned it from me).

See, “In the beginning was the Word.” God didn’t wave a magic wand or splash enchanted dust to create the universe: He spoke. Maybe you are thinking, “But those were God’s words.” These are as well:

“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21

“You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you;” Job 22:28

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

So let’s be mindful of what we say, remembering that, “Sticks and stones may break their bones, but careless words may wound their spirit.”


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!


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).


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.


aka Spare Tire Jesus

Posted: February 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »
This post is also appearing on my good friend and blood-brother Christopher Hopper’s blog.  Check out his site, buy his books and his music.  He’s awesome!
I am the king of flat tires.  No, make that the Joker, because the number of them I get is truly comical.  I have yet to rotate the tires on my Caravan as every few months, a tire is being replaced.  The circumstances are different, and the names are changed to protect the innocent, but each time I am forced to take my nemesis head on: The Spare Tire, aka. The Donut.

Regardless of the number of times I have subdued this beast, each time is an epic battle.  It seems simple enough, a half twist counter-clockwise, then crank the nut clockwise until you can get the tire out.  I am sure that every night, the engineer of the release mechanism under my van lets out a haughty laugh, admiring his brilliance.  It never works the first time.  It hardly works the fiftieth time.

After the beast has been unleashed, and properly mounted, there is still the matter of driving.  It’s embarrassing.  About the only thing it’s good for is, well, nothing.  It impedes my speed and handcuffs my handling.  The only thing on my mind is how fast can this be fixed, so I can put it back where it belongs; out of sight – out of mind.

It hurts to say, but sometimes this is how I treat my Jesus, as a “Spare Tire Jesus.”

My life is on cruise control, situation normal, and bam! Something goes wrong.  Uh-oh, life can’t go on like this.  I’m forced to get dirty now, to get on my knees and pray for help.  It should be easy to do.  Speaking with Jesus should be an every day event, not just a call I make when I need roadside assistance.

So I get my “Spare Tire Jesus” out, and install him in my life for a time.  And sometimes it’s embarrassing to put Him on display for the world to see. What if people were to know that Jesus was a part of my life? Not just that, “I’m saved,” but that I truly put my trust in Him, that He is as integral to my life as having a fourth tire.

My “Spare Tire Jesus” alters the way I drive my life.  He changes the direction I want to go, and how fast I can get there. This is a good thing.  Jesus is meant to be more than a pull in a certain direction that hampers me getting to my destination.  He is meant to be the navigator and driver.  If he holds the plan for my life, it only makes sense that He knows how to get there better than I.

Well, the situation clears, now what? With my van, I put a new tire on, and pray it doesn’t happen again anytime soon.  But this cannot be allowed to happen with my Jesus.  Instead of being my safety net in case of emergencies, He needs to be my life.  Those times when life gets a flat tire are generally the result of me not following Christ’s examples for living (Matthew 5-7) and are simply His way of saying, “Chris, you’re on the wrong path. It’s time to get it straight.”

Is Jesus your spare tire? Is He only for use in emergencies, hard to get out, and embarrassing to display as you live life?  I encourage you to get out of the drives seat, climb into the trunk, hand Jesus the keys, and say, “Where you lead, I will follow.” He will take you on unbelievable adventures, and there will be no need to worry about getting a flat tire when He takes the wheel.

This is the first in a series I am titling “aka My Jesus.” Check back for new installments!

- mooney


My Favorite Chapter of the Bible – Psalm 27

Posted: February 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Simple enough.  This Psalm is by far my favorite chapter of the Bible.  It has strengthened and encouraged me in many ways.  What is your favorite verse or chapter?

Psalm 27 (NIV)

Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.


I Surrender

Posted: December 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This morning I woke up with this thought in mind, “God show me what I need to deal with in my life – what keeps me from walking perfect and blameless as You have called me too?” The Holy Spirit then brought Galations 2:20 to mind. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I need to be careful not to beat myself up though. Some would say that you have to “Kill the flesh!!” but we have to be careful NOT to. See, I cannot crucify myself, someone else has to do it. God uses other people in our lives to help change us. I believe that as long as my heart is for God, that He will work things out of me that are not giving glory to Him. After all, isn’t He more gentle and merciful than I? The Word says He has ABUNDANT mercy (1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” .

When will I learn that this life I live is not my own? When will I learn, not in my mind but in my heart, that the life I now live is not my own. When will I follow the example set by Jesus in the garden and let my prayer be “Not my will but YOURS be done” (Luke 22:42Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.)

Here are two more quotes form Jesus from John 5:19 and 30, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.“, and “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Jesus said He could do nothing in and of Himself, only what He saw His father do. How can I think that I can do anything on my own? Why do I try to stand on my own two feet?

I can have the type of relationship with God where I lay aside my desires, motives, and pride and say to God, “I will do nothing unless You tell me to.”

I need to die to myself so that my selfish wants, needs, and motivations are not in the picture. Actually, I have already been given the power to do this according to 2 Peter 1:2-4Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

When will I accept that am NO LONGER a sinner by nature, and do NOT have to live a sinful selfish life.

Lord, crucify me and help me to look to Your will for my life. Let my motives be out of love for You and love for my brother, and not love of self. Teach me to be who you have already given me the power to be. I repent of my pride and my doubt. Thank you for freedom through Christ Jesus!