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.


Hearers only?

Posted: October 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, My Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I listen to a lot of teaching material and sermons at work. Many of these are from YouTube and the video plays in the background while I work (they are not a visible distraction). When I need to get up, I pause them, and I have noticed a trend.

Here are two screen captures that I took of recent YouTube teachings. One is a seminar by Jim Rohn, and incredible personal development guru. The other is a sermon at a church. Can you tell me which photo belongs to which teaching? (I blanked out their eyes for privacy)

If you couldn’t guess, the left picture is the sermon, the right is the seminar. There is a distinct difference in the two. In the sermon picture, the attendees are observing the teaching and committing it to mental memory.

The people attending the seminar are participating and writing down the information so they can go over it again later.

Given the different level of participation in the teachings, which group is more committed to the topic at hand?

Which would you say is the group simply hearing?

Which do you think are more likely act on the information they are receiving not just that day, but weeks, months, or years down the road?

Which are you?

 


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


A Light In The Darkness

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

umm, yeah. Here’s a little ditty I wrote four years ago. Enjoy

I own a store called A Light in the Darkness. It’s a quaint little shop with thousands of different lamps, chandeliers, and the like. I also sell the bulbs for every model you could think of. Our shingle reads, “My light will free you from any darkness.”

When you walk through the aisles, every lamp is lit so you can see how brightly they shine and what type of light they cast. They scream, “Look how bright my light shines! I have what it takes to free you from darkness!”

The display lamps scoff at the others still in the package. They call them useless and tell them how dull and insignificant they are sitting boxed on the shelf. “See how much light I give off? And you just sit there doing nothing.”

All of the lights are in separate rows, so you can clearly see their labels and what each is good at. Sometimes you can hear them argue about who does their job better and why they’re so important.

It’s ironic how proud the lights on display are, because they are the ones that never leave the shop.

The lights that are still in the package, they are my greatest asset. They have the potential to be everything and more that the display lights are, but are content to remain where I put them. They wait for the day that I take them from the shelf and send them to be the light that frees someone from darkness.

And that is important, because I have a specific light for every need. And not everyone knows what type of light is needed for their particular circumstance. These customers are easy to spot as they wander around my store from aisle to aisle looking for the one that’s “just right.” I’ve had a few complaints that it’s hard to know which light to choose when they all say they are the best. So I help them and guide them to a shelf, giving them the light that’s just right for their need.

I wish the display lights could be used to help someone, but they are too busy trying to outshine the others and too afraid to leave the store. They fear that they might be unplugged and their lights cease shining. I try to tell them they will be plugged in again when they are ready to be used but their fear paralyzes them.

So I am surrounded mostly by display lights who give light to no one but themselves in a store that is already lit, while a handful wait patiently for me to send them.

So how can I help you today? Remember, my light will free you from any darkness.

 


aka Robin Hood Jesus

Posted: May 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , | No Comments »

Robin HoodI love the story of Robin Hood. The best version I have seen (though I haven’t seen the new movie) is the cartoon. I still whistle the little ditty from the narrating rooster, lol.  I love the characterization: Robin Hood as a fox standing up for the poor rabbits, the adviser to the king is a snake, Little John as a giant bear, the clumsy guards as vultures, the sheriff is a wolf, and get this, the priest is a badger. A Badger!

What’s not to like with this guy, right? He’s a handsome critter with a persuasion toward sticking up for the little guy, an incredible marksman, has a go-get-em attitude. He’s so amazing a character, that we forget he’s an outlaw in all of this. Yes, the king is away fighting a war, and his nephew is quite the tyrant, but Robin is still robbing from the rich to give to the poor. We are empathetic to his cause though, aren’t we? It’s only fair right? We want this wonder boy to come in and save the day, right the wrongs, and stick it to “the man.” We want him to break the prisoners out of jail and take back what was theirs. We stand by and root him on, “Go get ‘em Robin!”

It ends great. Robin gets the fair maiden and King Richard returns to restore order to the kingdom.

It’s a great story, but that is it. A story. The problem starts when we bring this to reality, and we make Jesus into Robin Hood.

While I do not know if he was any kind of marksman, I know Jesus was no thief. But we do expect that he will use rich people to give to the poor, and that somehow, we who do not have much to give are not expected to. We turn ourselves into spectators. Instead of getting into the action, we stand in the crowd, and cheer on Jesus and his Merry Men. We want him to be the one to take up arms against the tyrants in our lives and restore to us what we believe was wrongfully taken (relationships, money, status).

I think that God requires more than that from us. Jesus tells a story of a man in need, a man who was destitute. He was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Even in this state, there were people that passed him on the roadside, and left him in that condition. People with status, and the ability to help him walked by in their arrogance, feeling it was beneath them to assist.

Finally there was a man who helped. His heritage was such that the Jews called his kind half-breed, and treated them such. This hurt man, under different circumstances, may have called him a dog and spat on him. He was a Samaritan, and he put aside all these differences, put the man on his donkey and took him to town to get the help he needed. And he didn’t just dump him at the ER, he paid for the expenses, and told the help that if it wasn’t enough, he would pay the rest when he came back to town.

This is what God expects from us, no matter our situation, or how people have treated us. We are not to be the victims waiting for a Robin Hood to save the day. We are to be like the Samaritan. No matter how much or how little we have. It’s high time we (mostly talking to myself here, so “high time I”) stop waiting for someone else to make a difference. We can’t think that because we do not have the resources to help everyone, that we cannot help someone.

Someone needs what you have.

Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’   Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.


The Significance of Now

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Videos | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I found this little ditty from one of my favorite speakers, Damon Thompson.. Something I really need is an urgency to complete what God has given me to do.

Your thoughts?


Another goodie:


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.