Monthly Archives: May 2016

Salvation: A redefining.

Let’s start with a little trivia of sorts…

How many of you have ever heard of the word freedom? It’s safe to assume that we have an understanding of what that word means. Just so were all on the same page here is the official definition.

Freedom (noun)

  1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:

  2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

We sometimes tend to take our freedoms for granted. For example, we could be at a church function and I can exclaim, “JESUS CHRIST!” without fear of persecution and without fearing for my life. And because of where we live we have that freedom, in other places around the world, those words would have cost our life.

Now, how about the word purify, do you have an understanding of what it means to purify? Let me provide the definition.

Purify (verb)

  1. to make pure; free from anything that debases, pollutes, adulterates, or contaminates:

There have been times when we have been out camping or something goes wrong within our city water supply that we have to boil water to purify it. To purify basically means to get all the bad junk out.

The word relief means:

Relief (noun)

  1. alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress,oppression, etc.

So in short, when we feel better than what we did we are experiencing relief.

Now the word refresh.

Refresh (verb)

  1. to provide new vigor and energy by rest, food, etc.

Here’s a perfect example. If you were hungry and tired after a long walk, after you sit a while and have eaten you will feel refreshed.

Here’s a powerful word.

Revive (verb)

  1. to activate, set in motion, or take up again; or the most exciting definition:

  2. To restore to life

And my favorite…

Redeem (verb)

  1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment:

  2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.

What if I told you there was a word with such depth and wonder, a word with much power, a word so endless and epic that all of these other words we just spoke of with their various definitions and meanings, not only fit inside of it but were actually redefined and amplified by it. There is such a word. That word is Salvation.

Salvation (noun)

  1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.

But this isn’t exactly the definition I’m talking about. It’s close, but this definition doesn’t even come close to the full extent of the salvation I’m talking about.

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just provide freedom but A freedom that is not just confined to just this world but a freedom that is eternal.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just purify in the sense of making something clean or unpolluted, this kind of salvation purifies to the point of making people righteous.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This salvation doesn’t just bring you a temporary relief from temporary situations, this type of salvation brings divine relief.

“And God will provide rest (relief) for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels,”

‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬

A salvation that provides truly refreshing life change.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that revives and brings forth a new life in Jesus.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that takes redemption to a whole new level.

“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now let me make one thing clear, the one who brought this world changing, earth quaking, redefining salvation is just as unique. There have been other men who have been called, “saviors” and by definition that might be true. But this Savior I’m talking about… MY SAVIOR, MY SAVIOR did something that no one has ever done before. You see not only did MY SAVIOR die a criminal’s death when he was in fact, the only being to ever step foot on this planet and live a spotless life, not only was he executed for all of our sins. But, this Savior, MY SAVIOR, after laying in a tomb for 3 days, MY SAVIOR ROSE defeating death once and for all!

This one of a kind Savior brought forth a one of a kind Salvation.

How can you not want this Salvation I’m talking about?

He wants to be YOUR SAVIOR TOO!

If you haven’t cried out to Jesus and asked Him to be Lord of your life, stop what you are doing right now and make an opportunity to do just that. You see,  just because you may have been in church for years, or maybe you’ve grown up in church, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve accepted Christ. The word of God clearly states:

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Are you ready? Are you ready for freedom, to be purified? Are you ready for relief, for a refreshing breath of new life to revive and redeem you?

Let’s pray.

Father, I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you love me so much, that you sent your only Son, in all of His perfection, to walk amongst His own creation, to be persecuted, humiliated, to be beaten, to be killed, for our sins. I believe that Your Son, not only died but rose from the dead, proving He was 100% man and 100% God. Jesus, come into my life, transform me from the inside out, be my Lord, be my Savior. Thank you, Jesus for saving me. In the name of OUR SAVIOR Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen!

Chasing Wild – Part One | Become Good Soil

Had to repost this recent weblog by Morgan Snyder. It speaks clearly to a very primal God space that exists in every man. Enjoy!

We pierced the veneer of outside things. We suffered…and had grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in all his splendours, heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. – Sir Ernest Shackleton

The arrow flew intuitively, almost of its own volition. For that moment, my bow and I had become one. Upon impact, the bear whirled on his hind legs and thundered back into heavy cover. I was deep in the wilderness of Colorado’s high country, in dawn’s early light. Little did I know, the adventure was just beginning.


Many years ago, a hunting mentor spoke these formative words: “Luck is the combination of preparation and opportunity.” Never before had the relationship between opportunity and preparation been more apparent to me than on that crisp September morning.

Needless to say, the idea of “getting lucky” has taken on a whole new meaning. In the field, I consider it over and over again: “Luck IS a combination of preparation and opportunity.” Mostly, the preparation is our portion, as students of the land, the animals, and ourselves. Opportunity is largely up to God. We train and we trust. We train that we might be ready, and we trust that we are sons of the Living One who has our best interests at the center of His soul, all the way, all the time, whatever the outcomes may be.

My hunting pursuits began over 15 years ago. I didn’t grow up in a hunting family or in a hunting culture. Far from it. Argyle socks filled my drawer, and my wild adventures were confined to small pockets of untamed land gridlocked in a maze of suburban sprawl. God’s wooing drew me into wilderness and hunting, the prize of which is much more primary than meat in the freezer (though that is a high value in our family culture).

Wilderness,  and chasing wild in its infinite forms, has become the central context for my validation as a son and my initiation as a man.

As this hunting season drew near, my good friend Brian and I drew a pair of rare and coveted archery tags and the dream of harvesting an elk and a bear on the western slope of Colorado. I was going in for three days prior to Brian’s arrival, both for final reconnaissance and, more importantly, for the time of annual solitude with God that my heart craves. Heading out in my truck, I began praying and consecrating the trip, connecting my heart with the Father and sloughing off the shroud of stress that the previous days and months had cinched around me, then settling in for several hours of open road.

Driving into the Arkansas River canyon and happily leaving cell coverage, I eagerly fired up the Scriptures on an audio app I’d downloaded, anticipating  my soul being rinsed clean and fresh during these precious hours of transition. I started with Psalm 1 and then moved into Psalm 2, and then…silence. The app just went out—so much for the grid independence the app promised.

But the verse that it stopped on was Psalm 2:8, which, in The Message, reads:

You’re my son, and today’s your birthday. What do you want? Name it. Nations as a present? Continents as a prize? You’re my son, and today’s your birthday. What do you want? Name it.

For a good 30 minutes, I brawled with the app, trying to coerce it into working, until finally it dawned on me what Father was saying: for this hunt—and not only for me, but also for Brian—this was OUR verse from Him.

“You’re my sons and this is your birthday. What do you want?” When I hit cell reception again, I texted Brian and shared the verse. “Happy birthday, buddy,” I texted. “Make sure you ask Father for what you want for this hunt. I’m starting to ask Him now.”

Hours later, I neared the spot we intended for base camp and felt my apprehension rise. I’d prepared for months for this bear hunt. I’d read several books on bears and trained my body for the backcountry through countless workouts on stairs and off-trail ascents with a 50-pound pack. With the exception of an eight-day backcountry filming trip, I’d shot my bow 55 days in a row, and I’d brought all my working knowledge and experience from past years—mostly failures and a few successes—to this hunt.

But this was a new level of apprehension. I knew I was pursuing—with only a bow and arrow—an animal that, if provoked, was far more capable of harvesting me than I was of harvesting it. Furthermore, this vast country was uniquely rugged and bear-enticing. Graced with undulating hillsides of ancient oak brush, this region attracts bears from up to 200 miles away. A hunting buddy who’d been there a previous year described that when the wind blew, ripe-acorns falling from heavily laden branches pitter-pattered like raindrops on the ground cover. Such prolific food offered ripe hope for an archery hunter heaven-bent on a close encounter.

Physiologically, this season in the high country for bears is called hyperphagia. Bears feed up to 22 hours a day, putting on as much fat as possible to sustain their hibernation during brutal Western Slope winters. With these optimal conditions, the collision between opportunity and preparation could come at any moment of any day.

The first morning, I hiked into a drainage to a secluded watering hole we had identified on the maps that we hoped would attract bears in the heat of the midday. Grazing leases for domestic cattle dominate this section of National Forest, and groups of cattle regularly shuffle through the drainages, feeding on grasses and also depositing endless cow pies. In the heat of the day, the stench of smoldering cow pies was noxious. I harnessed my senses and stayed as still as I could, settling in for hours of vigilance over the water hole. Between the heat and the stench and the still-lingering racket from the world inside of me, it was an appropriately challenging baptism back into the wild.

After five hours, I sensed movement and, out of the corner of my eye, glimpsed first sight of a bear. I was caught off guard as I’d seen so few bears in hunting situations before. This was a small bear, and I immediately registered it could be a cub. Colorado hunting laws prohibit harvesting a sow with cubs, and though I was tempted to draw my bow, I thought, If this is a cub, the mother is surely coming behind it, and I am not going to arrow a cub and end up with an angry sow hunting me. But if it’s not a cub, I don’t want to pass on what could be my only chance.

Feeling the pull of opportunity, I began to draw, knowing I had a fraction of a second to make a decision.

Here was the moment: I had this bear in my sights…and then discretion edged its way into my soul.

I lowered my bow, choosing to pass.

In my past as a bowhunter, I have at times been quick to fling an arrow. Quicker than I’d like to admit. And in recent years, I have specifically asked Father to grow discretion in me, that I might be quick to assess a shot but slower to release an arrow. I have learned the hard way: with both a bullet and an arrow, once it is released, it can never be called back.

As quickly as I decided, the bear moved on. Sure enough, no mother ever came, suggesting in fact it wasn’t a cub. (I have learned since it was most likely a two-and-a-half-year-old bear, which is the first year of independence for a young bear. Typically, two-and-a-half-year-olds are small and easily mistaken for cubs.)

Several days stacked up void of any more bear encounters as I covered mile after mile, boots on the ground, glassing and looking for both bear and elk sign. In drainage after drainage and hillside after hillside, I noticed that most of the scrub oak were completely barren: no acorns. Even the chokecherry and serviceberry bushes, though lush with leaves, were virtually naked of berries. The reality began to sink in: though this section is typically a berry and acorn bonanza, something was wrong. There was almost no feed. And without feed, there were far fewer bears in the area than seasonal population data suggested. (We later learned there’d been a Mother’s Day freeze that had decimated the acorn and berry population. Bears that typically traveled from hundreds of miles to feast in this particular section had headed to different country in search of food.)

As I prepared for Brian’s arrival, I realized the likelihood of harvesting a bear this year was plummeting. Discouragement crept in like a slow-moving winter storm. I’d spent six years accumulating preference points and six months training for what perhaps was the hunt of a lifetime, and I would very likely go home empty-handed.

In the darkness of the third morning, I headed to explore another remote drainage. Praying and worshipping under the flume of the Milky Way and the unwavering stance of Orion, my perception of God’s presence heightened. I felt our Father’s nearness, His overwhelming kindness, and His unfaltering leadership over my life. Quickly, my soul ignited with presence and I knew I was receiving the greatest treasure of any hunt: an overwhelming awareness of God Himself that often prevails after several days in the context of wilderness and solitude. This kind of encounter with God is the ultimate prize of backcountry hunting.

Then I heard these words from a Father to his son, from my Father to me, as his son: “Son, I invite you to let the primary mission of this trip be to help Brian harvest a bull.”

The clarity of Father’s voice in that moment provided joy-filled reorientation: the discouragement vanished as the path of Life was illumined. Everything in my soul shifted from the pressure of strategizing about arrowing a bear to ease and joy in the abundant goodness of my Father. I knew the Father was interacting with me and inviting me to chose love for my friend Brian, and to love Brian’s dad and his brother, who also had highly prized hunting tags. He was assuring me that while my day would come in the fullness of time and in His abundance, I could relish coming through for Brian. (Brian and his dad had both patiently invested 16 years of preference points and cashed them in for this particular opportunity.)

By then, the first light of day was brilliantly coloring the horizon, and in this intimate space, I sincerely felt like it was being painted just for me. A deep sense of peace now pervaded my hunt: I had my orders for this mission. I consecrated my motives afresh to God, and as Isaiah said thousands of years ago, set my face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7).

Brian would arrive shortly, and the second chapter would unfold. Little did I know that giving my yes to the Father on that September morning would bring far more than I was prepared to handle.

Oswald Chamber says this,

The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea—no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires.

The call of God is ever being whispered into the place in us that truly wants to receive it. The writer of Hebrews suggests that God is enticing and disrupting us so that, in His goodness, He can become even more the Author and Finisher of our story (Hebrews 12:2). Where is it that God is inviting your willingness to let Him author you into a story far better than you could ever ask for or imagine? Where is it your Father is asking, “Would you give me your heart and follow me?”

What is your wild and how is He inviting you to chase it?

To be continued…

Source: Chasing Wild – Part One | Become Good Soil

Unqualified

Have you ever been at work and thought to yourself, “I hate my job; why am I still here?” Maybe you’ve been at school wondering if your cut out for it. Do you second guess yourself on a lot of things, always thinking you may be doing it wrong?

The truth is, we have all felt like we don’t live up to standards. Whether those are self-imposed or standards that  society holds out, many good men spend their time just putting themselves down. To be honest, growing up I remember doing it many times. I’d find myself at times comparing myself to my friends. The ones that had the nice clothes or new video games. Even as grown men we tend to  do this. We feel like we have to have a big bank account and a fancy vehicle to have a sense of accomplishment. Often thinking those things will help us feel like we have finally made it. We put so much emphasis on things that we forget the One who made us and gave us the opportunity to succeed. God says that because He created us, He loves us!

He created us in His own image so we are beautiful just as we are. We don’t have to set our minds on worldly standards. God will put us where He wants us, and we will be great! Like my pastor likes to say “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” We have heard many examples in the bible about God using the people we might think aren’t qualified to do great things, but because He has called them, and because they were obedient in faith, God did great things through them.

If  you’re in a place where you feel you shouldn’t be or don’t like where you’re at, seek God and He will guide you, He’ll give you His path. When we experience difficult times, we must learn to look at them as steps to growth. When we experience great times, rejoice in them because God has blessed us. God has blessings for us. In Colossians 1:12 NIV it says,

“giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

God has given us His son and His kingdom. All we have to do is accept it and we will have everlasting life. God wants to use us for His greater good. Now the questions stands, are you willing to leave your own at times selfish desires to step up and be just as God made you? Are you willing to seek greatness for His sake and not your own?

Community

Community is by design, what we are all wired for. COMMON UNITY among a group of people is a beautifully splendid thing. It is also a very rare thing. You see, God knows that the common unity found in community with Him and those around us is the best place to be. It’s where life is found. It’s where we as people are strongest. That’s why deep down, it’s what we all desire, what we are all chasing after even if we don’t know it yet.

But why is it such an elusive thing? In my life I have found community on a few occasions, some ending in glorious destruction, others still alive today. Those that live are the ones that even through time and space thrive and well up memories of wondrous days gone by and too the hope of glory ahead.

The thing about community is that it’s a delicate balance of spontaneity, order and most of all, hard work. The early days of finding a group of people that are genuinely happy to know you and you’re genuinely happy to know are the magical days where intrigue and commonality rule the day. It’s a time of getting to know one another and allowing at times vulnerable insights into one other’s lives. Inevitably these days are numbered, relationships are forged, friendships solidify and life in real community begins.

I remember my final year in college a community was formed in a really diverse group of my classmates. We were all tied by the common bond of a capstone management course that was well rumored to be the end all and be all for college of business students. It was a time when we were all in the mists of leaving lives of extended adolescence and entering adulthood. We were equipped with our new found knowledge of business and we were set to conquer the world. We spent countless hours dissecting existing corporate strategies and financial data in order to formulate our own greater and more lucrative mock plans for America’s greatest companies. It was indeed exhilarating to each of us as dreams of corporate domination danced in our heads. Needless to say, it was fertile ground for some great relationships to begin, and indeed one did. I met and fell in love with Anna in that community.

I wish all my community stories could end with such grandeur, but unfortunately things don’t always end so great. As I said before, I’ve known glory and glorious disaster. In community, ultimately life happens, people have confrontations, feelings get hurt and sides are taken, it’s just the natural order of things and there really is nothing to keep it from happening. So in healthy communities, the next phase of growth occurs. Direction and authority has to be given in order to keep the group moving forward. This can be a dangerous place. If members of the community don’t understand authority and vision, they will become overburdened and frustrated and most likely leave the group. For Christians this should be an easy one. The vision is always Jesus, the cornerstone that holds us the Church together. But often we can’t see the forest from the trees for the burden of leadership. Leadership has to bare the weight of keeping people moving forward and finding that commonality and dream ahead of the group. They have to enforce the rules that will keep the group safe from self-destruction and they have to do it all in the highest most diplomatic and service oriented way possible. Otherwise, they and the group will suffer. What most people don’t realize is this is often a very lonely and onerous place. Leaders often carry the weight of the community as both the shepherd to those who love them and wolf to those who don’t. The rules, authority and accountability to all are a heavy load and true leaders will always carry them with dignity and respect.

For those that have found community and have sacrificed self and submitted to the will of authority and that of the group, community is a beautiful place. It’s a place where those gathered have set aside their own personal motives and agendas for the good of each other. It’s a place where we can find like-minded people to help raise our families. It’s a place to go deep in heart to heart conversations. It’s a place to have your feelings hurt and then find forgiveness and steadfast friendship. It’s a place where your best friends call you out when you’re out of line because they love you and your family and they don’t want to see you hurt. It’s a place that feels like home. Find that community folks, it’s so worth the fight.

Pacifiers

What is a pacifier? Websters says it’s a person that pacifies or a plastic shaped nipple that babies suck on or bite. Both definitions are simply temporary solutions for more permenant problems. Most of us have a hunger inside of us and we try to fill it with things. It could be things like money, sex, drugs, people, food or alcohol. I don’t know what it is for you, but all of us at one time have tried to satisfy (pacify) our souls with something or someone. When we do this, we begin to get restless and that hunger returns worse than before. It’s like we have a hole in our heart and we shove all these things in it to plug the hole and they work for a little while, but the hunger comes back.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

King Solomon talks about how God has placed eternity in our heart.  But It’s like we are taking what God put in our hearts and replacing it with something man-made. Why do we do that? Think about if we took something that we were born with and replaced it with something unnatural, something that is not supposed to be there. The book  of Ecclesiastes talks about this. In Ecclesiastes 1:14 King Solomon had everything he could ever dream of and more. He had tried everything under the sun and he says it’s all useless! I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. Without God, it’s all meaningless. That’s what it all boils down to, you can try everything that this world has to offer but it will not satisfy (pacify) you. Only God can fill the emptiness!