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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Relax Me...

Like a weaned child is my soul within me. - David

I can only hope that that kind of relaxation and restfulness and peace would wash over me this day.  To say with the Psalmist that I won't concern myself with matters too wonderful for me.  To let go of all that speaks of TRYING.  

Relax me, Lord.

Quite the storms that rage around me.

Whisper "Peace be still" to my heart.

Sing over me your songs of deliverance.

Cradle me in your Abba-arms.

Come, Lord.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

I relax into your relaxed heart.  

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jonas...Jason

I'm growing my hair out.  I haven't had it cut since the beginning of last summer and I've finally made it through the nappy, greasy, disheveled Jr. High stage.  My daughter Kami says that I look like Joe Jonas of the infamous Jonas Brothers (or the Jo Bros to those who speak of them with affectionate endearment).  

I just figured something out yesterday.  My name Jason has the same letters as Jonas.  I knew this had been foreordained since the foundations of the world.  Some things are just predestined.  Jason/Jonas is one of those matches made in heaven.  I'm thinking about going to the midnight showing of the Jonas Brothers in Concert at the IMAX in 3D.  

I will be listening to the Spirit's voice tonight to guide me in that decision.

tootles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

withdrawing to a lonely place...

"and he withdrew to a lonely place..."

Jesus did.  He needed to withdraw.  He needed to be in a lonely place.  He needed to get away from the clamor of the crowds, from the voices of the masses.  He needed to be alone.

I don't know all the reasons why, but I have some hunches.  I think he got tired.  I think he felt spent, wasted on certain days.  I think he grew weary in well doing.  I think he lost his passion as the well went dry and he felt himself printing green when there wasn't any gold in the vaults to substantiate it.  You can only print green so long without gold to back it up.  In economic terms it leads to inflation.  I think everyone, including Jesus, can tell when inflation is happening.  When the outside and the inside don't look anything alike.  When the actions of the exterior don't match the inactions of the interior.  And so, like Jesus, we all need to withdraw to a lonely place to recover our hearts and find the healing that only comes in obscurity and simplicity and serenity.

I've felt for several weeks now that my heart can't keep up with my body.  And I wonder, did Jesus feel this?  Did his body give out?  Did he come to end of himself?  Did he reach his breaking point?  Did he feel a nervous breakdown coming on?  Did he sense a red-lining in the midst of the silver-lining?  Did he feel his divinity being challenged by his humanity?  Did he reach the end of his rope?  I wonder.  I don't know.  All I know is that he OFTEN withdrew to LONELY places.  And that, my puny readership, is a big stinkin' deal.  The Son of God gave way to the Son of Man and made a beeline for the contemplative hills of anonymity.  He left everyone's needs and wants and whims and tended to his own heart.  He sought for validation from his heavenly father.  Often.  

This week, I'm doing this.  I don't do this near enough, but this week, I am.  And you can't stop me.  I simply must find the rehabilitation that comes from solitude and solidarity.  I have to escape the Tyranny of the Urgent.  I have to come to grips with my limitations and put guardrails around my heart.  I'm am in withdrawal for withdrawing.  

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you for being human.  Thank you for loving people like you loved yourself.  On most days I like you because you showed us how to love people; today I like you because you showed us how to love ourselves.  Thanks for loving yourself and giving us permission to do the same.  I don't know why, some days I just need that kind of permission.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What a week...

Last week will go down in the annals of Jasonology as one of the most crazy and frenetic weeks in his long and storied life.  (do you think I have a bloated perception of my own importance?)  I don't know as I have ever felt so overwhelmed with life and underwhelmed with myself.  

I had a great time at a Snow Camp speaking to a bunch of crazy adolescents over the weekend.  I haven't been a Youth Pastor for almost 5 years, so I had to dust off my teenage tools and resharpen them.  It took me a little bit of time to find a comfort zone again, but all in all, it was very good for my soul to be in the fat middle of the youth generation again.  They are so full of energy, creativity and intensity.  That was good chicken soup for my beleaguered soul.

I'm hoping this week will be more relaxing and less taxing.  I don't think I can handle another week like last week filled with sleeplessness and vexation of spirit.  I think I was under a spiritual attack or oppression.  I'm not one to overdo the Christian metaphor of spiritual battle simply because I feel like it is used as an excuse to exonerate idiocy and overlook our human depravity, but something foul was afoot in my life last week.  I don't know all the in's and out's of spiritual warfare, but I'm pretty sure I was experiencing it.  I felt it lift on Saturday afternoon, and it hasn't returned.  If someone was praying for me out there, thank you.  

So I sit here sipping coffee bracing myself for the week ahead.  May I struggle with all God's energy with so powerfully works within me.  Col 1:29, I think.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Isaiah 61...it still captures me.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  To proclaim the year of the Lords favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:1-3

My reactions to this sweet text:

“He” has sent “Me”.  You can look around, but I don’t think you’re going to find a more absurd phrase in the Bible.  What is He doing sending the likes of us to accomplish so great a mission.  As Paul said in 2 Cor. 2, “Who is equal to such a task?” 

Do you ever feel unqualified by your talents or disqualified by your behavior?  I do.  Do you ever feel too uneducated, too small town, or too inexperienced?  I do.  So many humans have such an inferiority complex that they can’t climb out from under the weight of their own unworthiness.  They are reminded by the inner jury of their own soul that they are guilty of unspeakable personal felonies leading to a verdict of GUILTY.  You can watch them live life with a “guilty as charged” sign hung around their neck.  For people like this, it’s nearly impossible for them to accept God’s invitation to join him in this rescue mission to recover the jewel of great price, the human soul.

They can’t wrap their arms around the idea that God would send them in his stead.  His reputation on their shoulders.  His success dependent on their movement.  People’s healing hanging in the balance with us standing in the gap on behalf of God.  We are the ambassadors…the spokesmen…the reps of redemption.  This is a tall order.  This is an epic invitation in need of a heroic volunteer.  Who is equal to such a task?  

No wonder the hero’s and heroine’s who live out this mission are called “oaks of righteousness” by God.  They are the strongest breed of believer.  They are the deepest rooted in their allegiance.  They weather storms and shelter pilgrims.  They are slow growing and long lasting.  And their presence reminds people of the splendor of God…they are “display” booths of his truth that endures to all generations.  

I’m a part of a church plant…so I love the phrase “a planting of the LORD”.  It’s something that he is always doing as the gardener of the gospel.  He is planting type of God.  He is growing people and grooming people to GO.  To be on mission.  To live out an organic experience of God in this world, to this world.  I happen to think that church planting is the best kind of “planting of the Lord” to display his glory…but that’s just my bias. ;)

He sent Us.  Holy Hope coming through Fragile Followers.  Unreal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friendship...elephantine pining.

There are days when my hunger for friendship supersedes and eclipses all other desires.  The pangs of my pining are ineffable.  They are, no doubt, psuedo-utopian and hopelessly idealistic.  They are so grandiose that I'm not sure they could ever be fully realized this side of heaven, but they are painfully palpable, viscerally moving me out of what is normal and on to a new normal, a neo-normal.  

I hate what is normal, what is ideal, what is unquestioned and accepted as standard fare.  I hate what the world is telling me is customary and typical.  I don't care.  I don't care that our culture is perfectly content with virtual friendship and quasi-community.  I don't care.  I don't care that people don't have as much of an affinity for conversation and meaty, hearty dialogue about deep matters.  I don't care.  I don't care that we are "used to" being alone and lonely in our society.  And I don't care that Christian community offers little more than a passing glance or a brief brush up against one's heart.  Week after week, people can and often do leave church unscathed, unnoticed, unengaged.  Unfortunately, community now means gathering a bunch of people together under one roof for an allotted amount of time for a premeditated formal cause.  That is not community, that is coalescing, that is convening, but that is not community.  Community devoid of friendship is like a body without blood.  

I yearn for friendship, not with everyone, but with someone.  "A man of many friends comes to ruin."  Of that I'm aware.  But a man of no friends is also living in ruins.   

This desire is elephantine inside me today.  I want friends, and I want so much more for the friendships I have.  My heart tells me I'm far from what it could be, and furthermore, what it should be.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life Verses...

Psalm 38:7
"For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh."

This morning I just realized why there are certain days when I missed reading the King James Version. Where else can you find comedic relief like this?  This is seriously funny.  If it offends you, you need to loosen up and live a little.  Go ahead, laugh...you have my wholehearted permission.  I don't care who you are, this is funny.  

I dare you to go to your doctor and quote this verse to him.

Today, this has just turned into my favorite life verse.  I have two others I thought I'd share with you that will give you all the ammunition you need to fight against taking Scripture out of context.  Here are two other verses that I've highjacked out of context and converted into "life verses".  Life verses...what a funny concept! ha.

2 Corinthians 11:1 (My ministry life verse)
1I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. 

1 Corinthians 7:29 (My marriage life verse)
29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none.

"May the Lord blessed the reading of his Word today."

How a woman handles a man's heart...

My wife wrote me a wonderful love note today.  If I don't put it on here, it will get lost in the shuffle and I will "little note, nor long remember it" to quote Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address.  

She is the crowned jewel of my life and her words of affirmation and strength have buoyed me today as they have the last 15 years of my life.  So much of who I am today is directly related to how she handles my heart as a man.  I can only hope other men are blessed to have someone speak into their soul like she does mine...

I found this on my computer this morning when I went downstairs to get breakfast ready for the girls...

"Good Morning, Lover…

It’s kinda funny cuz as my fingers tickle the keyboard you are staring at me on your screen savor…are you flirting?

I have enjoyed you so much the last few weeks.  It’s felt like a new romance.  It’s just fun to casually hang out even for you to run errands with me…it’s like you want to be with me anyway.  You’ve made me feel confident, loved, desired, sexy, irreplaceable, fought for, all the things my heart needs right now. Thank you for loving me like this.

It’s so true that when a woman is loved well she will desire to honor and respect her husband.  I don’t want to honor you just because you love me well, but because you are honorable.  And thankfully I don’t have to think hard.  

I honor you because you are a man of integrity, one whom I fully trust.  Your passion for God, me, the girls, life and people draw me to you.  You have fought for my heart in a way I’ve never seen a man fight even if that has meant you fighting with me.  Wow, am I ever so glad you push past your fear of my reactions (cuz I know how ugly that has been) to love me deeper, confront my insecurities and call out my heart to live fully. You have been a beautiful reflection of God the Father to me, not only in watching you with the girls, but in the way you make me laugh so hard I cry, in how you so carefully explore me (heart, soul and body), how you cuddle me for hours, how you calm my worries and fears, you hurt when I hurt, you are strong when I’m weak…you even did weight watchers with me and kept doing it when I caved. 

God made me strong…strong-willed anyway, and He certainly knew I would need a much stronger man.  Your strength is most assuredly outstanding among all men.  You’ve shown your strength in how you saved yourself for only me to have, and with me for me not to have until we were married.  You’ve shown strength in how you fight for the hearts of our daughters.  They are so proud to be yours. Your strength is displayed in your tears and your contagious laugh.  I see it in the way you so eloquently and carefully speak truth to the heart that wonders and wanders.  Your heart is so good, and I love it.

There are so many outside of just me and the girls that have been lucky enough to have experienced the strength you have to offer.  You have fought for countless people over their addictions, their insecurities, their failing marriages.  I love how you love not just us, but others too.   But let me be loud and let me be clear for the world to know..."He is mine."  I am yours and you are mine.  You had me at, “I was arrested last night” and I have been weak over you since.   I love you, I adore you and I consider you the best gift God has ever given me.  He must really love me."

This is so good for my heart.  I needed to hear these things this morning.  Any man that says he doesn't need this has gotten so good at lying that he believes his own fibs.  Men crave the affirmation and validation of their wives something fierce.  And on this day, I'm letting it seeps into cracks inside my heart that have needed filling lately.  

I love you, babe.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

global warming...hmmm?

Mentally preparing for the Saturday Night service.  I'm speaking about the heart of a man.  If you want to watch it, you can now see the services on www.impact-church.org by clicking on Media...the sight just launched yesterday thanks to the handy volunteerism of our techy chap Dave VanKeulen.  

What a beautiful day it has been.  53 degrees in the first week of Feb.?  Are you kidding me?  I am a new believer in Global Warming even though two weeks ago it was 5 below zero and I wanted to laugh my head off at Al Gore and his inconvenient truths that seemed more like incoherent truths.  I'm going green again starting today, unless of course, it gets cold again.  Then I will return to my horrible habits of burning plastic and littering profusely.  

life rocks.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Defeminized and Remasculated Men...

artsy fartsy.  mamby pamby.  airy fairy.

This is what it feels like to a man and a ro"man"tic.  I'm telling myself this because I have been groomed in a culture that has neutered and thus, neutralized men.  For Pete's sake, what is a man?  Does anyone have any idea what we're supposed to look like, act like or feel like?  When God made man, what was He making anyway?  Am I what He had in mind, or am I far, far from home?  

I feel like my heart has been...

"Manhandled" - It has been roughed up and kicked around by culture.  It has been beat up and left for dead.  It has been handled so poorly by women in general.  It has been misunderstood and missed by most authors and artists who write and sing of the symptoms but ignore the causes.  We are rarely good for more than our face-value, our curb appeal.  We are seen as cheap, not deep.  This is a mishandled man in my opinion.

"Manipulated" - My heart has been sold a bill of goods that goes something like this, "You will never be strong.  You're incapable of being noble.  So the best you can do is fake it in the daylight and go underground with your desires in the moonlight."  My heart struggles to belief it is anything more than a "problem needing to be solved", a "danger needing to be tamed"... a "train-wreck waiting to happen."  I've been duped into believing that I'm shallow, fallow, sallow, can callow.  And you know what...I belief the sales pitch on most days.  I've been completely and utterly bushwhacked, hornswoggled.

"Managed" - My heart can't be released, it has to be superintended by an outside strength, at least something is telling me this inside.  Women don't need accountability, men do.  We can't be trusted, given the chance to do something evil or stupid, we probably will.  We can't be left to our own devices, we must be policed, chaperoned.  And since culture has thrown in the towel on men ever being any different, we bow to the management of our unruly nature.  Murphy's law says if something can go wrong, it will.  This has become the definition of men - "If they have a choice to do something wrong, you won't be able to stop them because they can't help themselves."  It's their lot in life.  It's the damnation of their destiny.  The best you can do is control them through lion-taming techniques...because they can't change, this is who they are, "Feral souls incapable of self-discipline and self-control."  Amen and amen.

"Manicured" - Let the makeup begin.  Let's pacify our evil desires by turning into women, albeit woman with armpit hair and perspiration issues.  Let's keep our nails trimmed and our tails between our legs.  Let's not take risk for fear of looking stupid.  Our hearts have started measuring themselves with a female ruler.  And the measurement will always leave us wanting.  We will be wanton and wanting our whole lives under these imprisoning cosmetics.  We cannot be domesticated and civilized without bury so many God-breathed desires that we're hardly worthy of being called "Adam's sons".  Living out the image of God and the imagination of God as a masculine heart is Kingdom-critical, and the emasculation of the man's heart has led to a crippled Christianity at best...a hopelessly corrupt Christianity at worst.  Our hearts were not made to be feminized.

"Manure" - If you cut through the crap, most men feel like "s$%t" most of the time.  They feel like failures, missing the mark on most fronts in their life.  No matter what the outside seems to be saying, so many men wake up feeling like they are nothing more than dung waiting to be spread around on the open fields of life. Decomposing and Decomposed.  They question their value, they intimately know their sins (as David says, "my sin is ever before me"), they don't feel like they are the real deal under their skin (in the same chapter David said, "I long for truth in the inner parts), they feel perverted, pent up, and powerless.  I just asked a guy how he was doing last week and he said, "I feel like crap!"  And our hearts are crucified with this thought even before most days begin.  But here's the killer, this belief becomes our identity and then our reality.  We start becoming the crap we think we are.  "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" type of thing.  

"Manufactured" - Last but certainly not least, men feel like they are forced into a certain mold, fabricated into a figment of the original dream.  They feel like they are putting on a show to maintain the cover.  They are trying to be what everyone else wants them to be and needs them to be, but they are not themselves.  They are butt-kissers and people-pleasers selling out to diplomacy.  They become "yes-men"...spineless and toothless, scared and scarred by a culture that has manufactured masculinity to mean nothing more and nothing less then  "acquiescence at all costs".  And we aren't the only ones who pay for this sell out, this facelift, this remodeling...the world of women live desolate and deserted, and humanity advances with a rock its shoe, limping because men are limping liars who have been lied to and lied about.  We carry on and tarry on "deceiving and being deceived".

Men have been mangled...but I feel a stirring.  I have a dream.  I see men rising out of the ashes and reclaiming their rightful place.  A place of depth and breadth.  A place of honor and valor.  A place of chivalry instead of chimeras.  And I want to be among them with they do surface and stand.  I want to be in that number.  I want to lead and be led by that mass of men.  "For the kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing, and forceful (with violent affection) men will lay hold of it." - Matt. 11  So kick off your loafers, boys, and move forward as a force to be reckoned with.  A force of defeminized, remasculated men.  "For the glory of young men is their strength." - Prov. 20:29   It always has been, it always will be.  Return to your glory, return to your strength.