The Chicken or the Egg

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Philippians 2:13 HCSB
This verse kind of reminds me of the old “which came first, the chicken or the egg.”
In my own opinion, it doesn’t make much matter how God did what He did, the point is He did it…
But here, in Phillippians, we read of how He is working IN US, to both DESIRE and to WORK OUT His good purpose…
So we live there, in the constant and ever complex reality of what we WANT from God vs. our ability to WORK OUT how to get there. Can you relate?  It’s a challenge for sure to be honest with ourselves when it comes to the DESIRE portion hey?
For Example –
Desires:
  • Ability to evangelize well to others
  • Need to be a great husband & dad
  • Longing for effective role in my community & church
  • Need for excellent financial stewardship & generosity
Work Out:
  • Read God’s Word daily and pray for boldness with truth based knowlegde
  • Commit to knowing schedules, loving words, and acts of service that will benefit the family before myself
  • Sign up & Participate in groups and service roles to be placed closer to the fire of ministires
  • Put aside personal wants and items or things that will rob my ability to bless others and provide for real needs…

Using a small outline like this can show us some ways to compare the DESIRE sides of our faith in comparison to the WORK OUT side.

Plug your own items in here and as you read them back aloud to yourself ask these questions:

Do MY DESIRES equate to God’s Glory in real ways?

Do MY DESIRES move me to serving others or do they gravitate towards my own benefit?

 

It’s really apparent to me that the WORK OUT portion of my list is MUCH harder to follow up on than the actual desires… Perhaps that is why the Lord says HE will enable us to do BOTH ….   Giving us HIS DESIRES and pushing us to work them out for HIS GOOD PURPOSE.

So which came first ? the desire or the work out?

Wherever you find your answer this morning, keep in mind, the end goal is the eternal joy and life or living with our HOLY GOD. He will bring you to that goal but you have to put in the work out.

 

Secret Codes

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  1 John 4:4-6

Recently, i finished reading an incredible book, authored by Marcus Luttrell & Patrick Robinson, called Lone Survivor.   The book is an autobiography from Luttrell’s experience in the United States Navy Seals and his horrific encounter with the Taliban. In honor of the veterans and servicemen and women throughout our country, I would first and foremost like to state my gratitude and thankfulness for these people. From years before us and years to come the American Military continues to amaze me by their sacrifices and dedication to our freedom.

During the book, Luttrell does a great job of describing many facets of the Navy Seals that would normally go unknown to the common public. Additionally, he describes some techniques of communication used by our forces as well as the enemy and other tribal communities that he got know while on his mission. The majority of these communication techniques are so elite and elusive to others that those untrained with the specific outfit, would have absolutely no idea of what message was being relayed.

During the story, among massive trauma and danger, Marcus used coded signals via the Navy Seals as well as witnessed specific languages techniques used by the native tribesmen to save his own life. At a time of absolute desperation and loss of lives, these successfully coded messages resulted in his rescue and the recovery of MANY fallen heroes that lost their lives for us on that mountain. I have been earnestly moved by Luttrell’s story along with so many other veteran’s experiences and as I read my daily verse from this morning… it really hit home.

There is a way among the Navy Seals, and the Airborne Rangers, and Green Berets, and elite warriors such as these. There is a training and regiment that is so tight and intense and specific that NO ONE outside of the groups can truly comprehend. This creates not only incredible skills and strength during times of chaos but also and INTENSE BOND that cannot even be broken by death. Again, earnestly moving to me as I continue to learn how to love well, protect the lives around me, and contribute to my community.

I encourage you to read the story of Marcus Luttrell and his experience on that mountain, but see the verses here from 1 John as well:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  1 John 4:4-6

This reminded me of the “coded” messages used in the story. How many times have you tried to share the Good News and received little back but silence? Or on the contrary, how many times have you heard someone “of the world” say something that to you may have sounded completely foolish, yet everyone else seemed to receive it so well? ELITE FORCES know the difference. Verse 6: WE are from God.  I gather a good majority of the readers on this post may already be in the King’s Army, if you will. And if so then you know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. For the one on the fence, looking for the answers my prayer is we continue to live a life of LIGHT and SPEAK the news of the gospel daily!  Yet, there will be struggle. There will be losses and destruction, and even at times, you may feel as though you have reached your end, much like Marcus did. ELITE FORCES know the difference. You have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

Thank you Marcus Luttrell and thank you Jesus for installing such hearts of strength and courage that fight for life and freedom.

 

Eye in the Sky

Apologies for the late post…  While reflecting this afternoon, my message came to me..   This is an add to Justin’s post from yesterday…

The Eye in the Sky..

This morning Sam and I made the trip to pick up his new firearm. As the afternoon came about we planned out our trip to a local 604 Acre Public Hunting ground. Being the yankees, we are, it has taken some time for us to “Catch Up” to all of the rules and regulations of the Texas Wildlife and Recreation Rules, but  I’m thankful through the help of others and online, we are learning quickly.  In Texas, with a Type II annual permit added to my hunting license, I am granted the right to hike & hunt specific game at specific seasons on specific PUBLIC land owned by the State. Fortunately for us, 2 of the public land plots are very close to our house in Celina. We hopped in the car with the maps and 20 minutes due north later we arrived at plot #1 and pulled the car into the grass of the gravel road.

As we loaded our ammo, packed the headphones, and grabbed the pocket knives, I noticed the sign stating the “rules” of the area and made quick to read through. Sam and I finished and as we got to walking through the plot, a helicopter buzzed past the sky above and flew on out of sight. With the car locked up we headed out down the trail and took a few plink shots here and there as we walked. This was our first experience carrying guns DURING hunting season on a hunting property and to be honest I felt a combination of incredible freedom, incredible obligation, and incredible hesitation at the same time. We burned through some ammo, saw some beautiful views, and headed back toward the car to check out the other plot #2. As we pulled out, the same helicopter rounded above us connecting for the second time with our line of vision.

5-6 minutes later we found the other plot of approx. 500 acres and parked the car again and took to the foot hike. This plot was MUCH less over grown with thorns and thistles and made for easy walking and eventually led us to a water hole amidst a hilly meadow of  mesquite, cactus, and grasshoppers buzzing around everywhere.  Sam and I continued to unload rounds into the water, earth, and a few tree stumps as the rules stated no “target” practice. Had I known that before we arrived at plot number one, I would have re-thought the afternoon plans, so instead of target practice we simply walked and aimed at dead targets, hoping it was ok with the state. To be out there, the two of us with the sun shining and not a soul around was truly refreshing. As we hiked back to the car, (about an hour or so had passed) we started up the A/C and brushed off the burrs and double checked each other for bugs/ticks. I had about 9 rounds left in my magazine, so as we were about to close the day, Sam mentioned I might just enjoy firing off my remaining rounds. I walked to the back of the car, turned towards the dirt 15 feet away, and bam, bam, bam. I cleared the chamber, discharged the clip, and threw the .45 into the case in the trunk and shut the hood. As i looked up there he was again. Same Helicopter, a bit closer, watching my moves, and then off headed to the south…

As I got in the car Sam asked me again if I saw the chopper and I answered in affirmative. Dad, “Would that be a game warden?” .. Duh, of course. And so carried on our conversation on the 20 minute ride home of the review of the rules and regs and what we may have or have not done properly on our first visit. We didn’t really share any fear of shame or guilt, just healthy discussion on the “do’s and the don’ts” and how much fun we had as well.

Look, I don’t know who was in the chopper. I couldn’t see his face. I couldn’t even make out the decals on the side with the searing sun in the sky. But i know this… it was the same one all three visits, and they could see us and KNEW where we were.  Tonight, I think about the Father and His vision, outlook, perspective, and eye in the sky. This is not to leap any theological hurdle by any means, and I KNOW God can see everything and everyone all the time… but the chopper…   They were FAR MORE aware of us than we were of them … because of perspective… they had the vantage point of the land…. they probably had WAY MORE in their perspective than simply Sam and I this afternoon… Like God does….    But He is watching… despite being with us one on one, in body and in room, presence of all kinds, this helicopter just made me ponder how the Father truly is the Shepard, the Protector, The EYE in the SKY.

Sam and I had to make the choices to abide by the state’s regulations. We could have crossed the lines or dismissed the law… but we didn’t know on occasion this afternoon that chopper was even up there.. whether blocked by the trees, or couldn’t hear from the headphones, whatever,  every so often, peek – a – boo, there he was.

How much more is God watching friend? How often does that thought in our mind say just this once, or I can have this right quick without harm to anyone…    I don’t know that answer for you… but I know there is God our Father that has His eyes on us and cares to see us well. He cannot look at us and relate to us in our uncleanliness… thank you to Jesus that He does not have to … we are seen by Him as He sees Christ.  So remember He is there, remember He is here now. Right here reading the message with you, right here ready to speak to you and listen to you and BE YOUR SHEPARD.

Father, help us to be Christ-like even when there is no one around. Especially when there is no one around. Help up to understand that YOU do not see things wrong with us but you only see us in Christ and want what is MISSING in our lives to be filled. Thank you for always being here with us and yet having the perspective of the greater picture. Father, we need your protection and guidance and will not walk without you. 

Mr. Game Warden, we are learning, thank you for protecting the land and the law.

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Rooted

The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.
– Jeremiah 17:7-8 HCSB

Happy Wednesday brothers, some of which I have known well and those whom I have yet to meet.  The topic of trust has surely been touched upon in previous posts yet I feel this verse above to steer my thoughts here midweek into the same topic. How does a man TRUST in the Lord?  Honestly, I often doubt my own ability to fully “let go” and give everything thought, moment, and item to Him, yet, we are to live this way.  Or is that the appearance we provide to the world? A few years back I would say yes, I “appeared” to trust fully and embrace His FULL WILL in all things in my life. Today I can see that was not the case at all. It may have been my want or my desire for that FULL trust to be present but looking back I am sure there was far less trust present.

Why bring this up on “Happy Wednesday”?  Not quite sure, but as we grow in our faith and experiences, and I read this passage in Jeremiah, I find strength. I have read some posts and heard real life stories the last few days of sadness, grief, anguish, “vexed” spirits, and loss. These stories from friends and neighbors and co-workers of who I should be the shining light too…. right? The people that are counting on us most to say the right word or place the hand on the shoulder or give a hug perhaps?   Yet, often the word isn’t there, or I miss the golden moment to embrace a hurt or fear… yet trust…. it is above the emotions and the circumstances.  It is beyond the here and now and transcends time and place when it really starts to take ROOT in your heart.

Listen friend, to hear someone say they wake everyday and NEVER fear or worry or fret or anguish about every day life sounds really cool. I TRULY believe God, in his majesty and divine ways can free men to be amazing and trusting and SUPER POWERFUL FAITHFUL CONSISTENT SOLDIERS of the Kingdom.  I’m not so sure those FULLY TRUSTING are always transparent about every scenario that comes their way. Listen, i’m talking to myself here, but I think trust comes in other ways as well. In the quite thought when isolation creeps in and a man is tempted to look at something evil, and he doesn’t. When the time is available to skip out from a promised function that may not interest you but YOU GO, and participate. Each moment you catch captive the thought that may have changed to sin or drop the dollar on the family item or budget instead of spending on yourself. Or whatever, I’ll fill in my own blanks…… right?

Brother, blessing from the LORD comes in MANY different forms. As one of my favorites, (The Grateful Dead) would sing, “one mans garbage is another man’s gold.”  We all have very different needs and wants and the Father seems to be incredibly skilled at consistently filling the spot or void with His blessing WHEN WE TRUST.  Read it again once more, but slowly…

“The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”

Can we sit on this passage today together? Can we search for the streams that our roots may be deep and strong and fervent lines of HOLY SPIRIT packed energy and strength. That source of life, that standing on the ROCK, is the shelter from the storm, the green foliage in the drought, and the fruit producing.  Be patient man, be consistent, be engaged, and press IN…   that we may be ROOTED in the Everlasting Light, His name is Christ. 

Father, help us to trust you. In the high and the low and the thick and the thick, we need you! Set our roots deep Lord and keep us straight in the high wind. We love you Father. 

Vexed, Oppressed, & Obsessed

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank  into the sea and drowned in the waters.  – Matthew 8:29-32

 

“The Devil made me do it”    

“I’m really fighting some demons here”  

“I can feel the enemy pulling at me”    

“The devil’s got a hand in this” 

 

Have you heard some of these sayings? Perhaps said some of these yourself? With a piggy back (no pun intended) on Jeff’s post yesterday I’m offering three platforms in which we battle the devil this morning… vexed, oppressed, & obsessed.

Vexed – The devil is chasing us, attempting to disrupt our lives, searching for his shot at a failure or hang up that he can use against us.   Pretty common right? Happening all of the time in a “non-stop” effort of his to catch soldiers of the King off guard.

Oppressed –  the devil caught up with you. He’s there throwing darts and daggers and some of them may feel like they are penetrating. it may be overwhelming, it may be exhausting, it’s dangerous and feels as though you cannot see the win.

Obsessed – Influenced completely by the devil, overcome and OCCUPIED by the demons.

See in the verses of Matthew when Jesus cast out the demons from ONE man He sends them into a HERD of pigs. This is to show us the VASTNESS of one human soul. What demons may take residence in ONE human soul can fill an entire HERD OF PIG! But see here…   NO ONE who claims belief in Christ is OBSESSED with the devil or by demons. Christ allows NO ROOM for the demons in His Temple. (AKA your soul!) That is a lie to believe it and a false truth to engage in the thought that the devil or a demon may take up residence in a believer. God does not share his children.  Therefore, obsession by demons or the devil will never happen to the believer.

“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”

You, I, we are filled with the Power of God. The Holy Ghost is IN US. Believer you have everything you need and as we read yesterday, the devil wants to oppress and vex those working in the Kingdom yet see here …. THERE IS NO WIN for them. This battle has been fought and won the day God sent Christ to the cross and hence He conquered death there…

The Power of the Holy Ghost is in your heart, in your hands, in your mind, in your pinkie toe!     Though vexed and often oppressed, you are the victor in Christ against demons and the devil. Additionally, with the MIND OF CHRIST, you have the resources and the ability to fight and conquer. Think no different than this brothers. We need to spend more time using the Holy Spirit than we do fearing the battle. God does not instill FEAR in any of His Sons and you are no different. You are created for righteousness and glory and a holy communion with eternity in which you shall celebrate this morning. Brother you got the power and the devil is quivering when the words of Christ leave your tongue. Your foot rests on his neck against the ground in a continuing strangle hold awaiting the earthly return of Christ our brother. Let today be the end of wavering in thought and battle.

“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”

Father, thank you for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving us the way to glory and the answer for everything in yourself. Father forgive us for the hesitation and self-imposed fears and worry that we KNOW IS NOT FROM YOU. Give us the desire to REACH INTO YOUR SPIRIT more and FIGHT and may our feet press stronger on the neck of the devil crushing his ear to the ground. We know the way to you God, through He who is in us greater than he who is in the world. 

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