Saturday, April 25, 2015

Frisbees and Faith

Yesterday I posted on "Posture of the Heart"—a topic God has been showing our Men's Group about the relationship and balance between humility and meekness, and boldness and confidence and authority. These qualities are contradictory in the same person in a person of the world, but essential in a Christian.

On Thursday night I shared this topic with our youth group and I used the following example to help them understand it (I did this before I told them what we'd be studying): I took the youth group outside to our back parking lot, a large, mowed "field" in most people's eyes. I picked a young lady who I thought could throw a frisbee decently, and a young man who I figured could throw it farther. I had the young lady take a couple of throws for practice and then the young man. I was right in that he threw farther then her each time. I then, casually, teased another young man who I'd had in the field retrieving for me and I said, "You look bored," and I threw it far over his head, at least twice as far as the farthest throw either youth grouper had made (I played frisbee every day in high school).

I then gave the two youth groupers who I'd had throw a hypothetical situation, telling them I wasn't encouraging gambling, but asking them to imagine they both had $5 they could bet, and they'd get three times that amount back if they won. The bet? They would each get two throws and could pick their farthest throw, and the farthest one was the winner. I first asked the girl how much she'd bet of her $5 that her farthest throw would be farther than his farthest throw. Her answer: "Is zero an option?"

I then asked him and he said he'd bet it all. I nodded then changed it up. I said to the girl, "How about you and I partner? You take one of your throws and I'll  take the other, and the farthest of those two will be your farthest throw?" The boy promptly (and good naturedly) complained it wasn't fair, and she promptly decided to bet her full $5. He decided to bet nothing.

We then went inside and sat in our usual circle on the carpet and talked about it, and I believe the youth saw the concept that the girl had the humility and meekness to recognize what she could (and couldn't) do—to be honest with herself, about herself. And in that humility and meekness she was able to partner with one far stronger and more equipped then her, and that partnership gave her tremendous confidence and boldness. Had she been overconfident or arrogant about her abilities she'd probably have bet and lost it all on herself, but she wasn't. She was honest about herself and her weaknesses, and that opened her up for the colaboring partnership. And, as such, she was the blend of humility and meekness, with confidence and boldness, that God asks of us in our relationship with Him.

As I wrote in yesterday's post, that is our walk of faith—an honesty that recognizes our weaknesses, our tendency to temptation, our inability to do it on our own; and the resulting placing of our trust into God and His promises for us and presence with us. As such we can be humble and loving and serving to others, and yet confident and authoritative in the calling and words and stand God calls us to take with and for Him.

Hopefully this example helps. I believe it did for the youth. God bless all of you, and thanks for sharing in my life.   —Erick

Friday, April 24, 2015

Posture of the Heart

Over the last couple of months our Men's Group has been talking about the posture of the heart God desires in Godly men. I don't think what we've seen is limited to men alone, and I wanted to share it with you.

In a nutshell I believe we've seen that God requires His people to walk in a mixture of humility and love and service, but also in confidence and boldness and authority. In the world's economy those things are contradictory and even Jekyll and Hyde "ish"—but in God's kingdom the two are mutually dependent on the other, and essential. It has been fascinating to see how these both work together.

We looked first at Moses, a man the Bible calls the meekest of men. And yet God called him to a place of tremendous boldness (who else, but Moses, would have been most aware of what he would face in facing Pharaoh . . . of Pharaoh's power, his army, his magicians' dark power?). Each time Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3 and 4) brought up to God a weakness of his (of Moses') God didn't deny that weakness or boost Moses' self-esteem, but rather God met Moses' weakness with a promise of God's presence and provision and leading. It was at the end when Moses kept trying to get out of it and focus on his own weaknesses that God finally got angry at Moses. It is as if in His anger God has said, "Moses, you are meek, and you have weakness, but I have met each moment of such with a promise, and you are, in a nutshell, saying that I am not enough."

It is important that we see that God never tried to boost Moses' self-esteem, or tell him he was the man with the plan and skill. If Moses thought he was Mr. Right for the job he would have failed, but in his weakness God could offer him His strength and presence, and in reliance on that and not himself, Moses could walk in tremendous confidence and boldness before Pharaoh, ocean obstacles, and grumbling Israelites.

Beyond Moses we've looked at New Testament passages that call us to humble ourselves, and they come with the promise that God will lift us up. When God lifts us up we can stand in tremendous confidence and boldness when we are standing in what He has called us to do or be, whether it is to speak His words or to confront the hosts of darkness—but He won't lift us up until we humble ourselves. He actually promises to resist/oppose the proud. So . . . to be proud in our own strength causes God to work against us, which should scare us a lot; but to be humble about ourselves causes God to lift us up, which gives us every reason for confidence!

We then looked at David who was tremendously humble and broken before God (see Psalm 51), and yet bold and unapologetic toward man (see 2 Samuel 6:16–23 when his wife mocks him for worshipping God exuberantly). God gives David the highest honor known to man, to call David a man after God's own heart. And we see in David a man humble before God, dependent upon God, deeply aware of his own sin and failings—and a man who, when standing in the place God called Him to stand, was bold, confident, authoritative, and a worshipper and leader beyond measurer. Again, the "paradox" of Godly men (and women): humility in evaluating self and seeing self against others, but confidence in being who God called him to be, confident in God and not Himself.

We see the same thing in Paul who was deeply aware of his own sin and shortcomings, but who stood in his calling with authority, confronting enemies of the church and the hosts of darkness with boldness and confidence and God's power. We see it in Jesus who spoke not a word in His own defense, but spoke with authority and stood with confidence against the enemies of His Father's message and against the forces of darkness.

Perhaps one of the clearest examples of this "paradox" is seen in the Centurion (Matthew 8:5–10) about whom God paid another highest of all compliments. Of him Jesus said he'd seen no faith to match his in all of Israel (and the Centurion was a Roman!). When the Centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus said He'd come to the his house to do so the Centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."

We see here tremendous humility in an obvious way (I am not worthy), and also in a way we may first miss. What is the key to authority the Centurion reveals? It is that to be a man in authority, we must be a man under authority. For example, I could not give you a speeding ticket on my own, but if I was submitted to the government as a police officer (one under authority) I would have the delegated authority of that position. Leaders in the military or workplace are similar. They have the authority they are given by the one they are, themselves, under. So, again, here is that amazing "paradox" at work (and essential) in God's Kingdom: when we humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God's authority, we then walk in God's authority as God's servants and called ones. First comes the humility that recognizes our brokeness and need of God and recognizes God's Lordship and worthiness of our surrender, and from that comes the calling to walk as men (and women) called of God in the positions He calls us to—leaders, those called to speak His truths and proclaim Him, confronters of the demonic, etc.We could go on and on with more examples—what about Gideon who said he was the least when called by God and to whom God didn't deny that, but rather promised His presence and then called Gideon to stand, 300 against over 100,000.

But in the end, to wrap it up, I see that this paradox is exactly the call to walk in faith that is on our lives as Christians. What is faith? It is the recognition of our weakness and need and inability to do it on our own (be it salvation, or daily strength). That recognition makes us humble and gentle towards others in any sense in which we must deal with them as servants, neighbors, etc. But then, in faith, we place our trust and confidence in God—God!—God who breathes out stars!—and in that trust we find tremendous confidence and authority and boldness in any and every area He has called us, be it speaking His truth and words, standing on His promises, or confronting darkness, because it is not our "strength" we stand in or our "authority" we confront in, but rather in the strength and authority of the one we have ourselves submitted to.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I hope this finds all of you well. Obviously I've not posted in many months, and I value the freedom of only posting when I feel God's leading and not trying to maintain a readership or following. If you've subscribed to my posts you are likely a friend or family, or at least acquaintance, and probably know that this blog is simply a place I began to now and then share thoughts, things God might be showing me, slices of our life, etc. It actually began as a place for me to record the highlights of these things for my girls to one day read without having to wade through all  my old teachings, etc. From there came the thought that if I was blessed by something, others might be too. Thanks for reading, and sharing, and caring.

We are well. We are enjoying quiet life in the country, horses, and the simple things that make life most special—time together, being out doors, good coffee and fellowship, friendships, and family. We are very busy with Mary Ann homeschooling the girls and still being a mom and the wife of a husband who loves every second he can get with her, the different hats I wear, the horses the girls enjoy, and the work required to keep up a home and acreage in the country.

Most of my free time, when not spent with family, has been working on a novel I've been writing on for over a year  now. It is a Christian "western" set in the 1880s and it has been fascinating to see the places God has taken me in the research for it, and the way He's been helping me (and hopefully leading me) to work in to it different things He's shown me over the years about two main areas: faith being one, and the collapse of man's confidence in the written account of Genesis being the second. The 1880s were a critical time in that collapse on the part of the church, coming mere decades after Darwin's book, which followed the church already caving in on the age of the earth issue.

I'd value your prayers for the book as I seek to be led by God and to find time to write in the midst of being a husband, father, pastor, youth leader, and volunteer fire-fighter and chaplain. These things all come first, so needless to say the novel is a now and then thing, but I did cross 100,000 words recently and from the first vision of Chapter 1 which I woke up in the middle of the night with I am feeling His hand. I just need to trust His timing and know when He says to write, and when He says to focus on others or other things.

The fellowship is moving along as a fellowship does, with some people experiencing some real growth and victories, and others struggling. I am beginning a teaching on the essential nature and role of the Holy Spirit and I hope that it will awaken in us a hunger for His leading and magnified presence. I know that the Holy Spirit has been used (by name) to abuse many in the church, but I believe we can run so far from a fear of excess that we can stray in the other direction of error and avoid Him altogether. I'd value your prayers as well on this series and for the fellowship.

One thing that has been a real blessing over the last year has been our Men's Group. A core of around seven to nine of us have met regularly, twice a month, and it has been the first time we've found a successful way to have a consistent men's fellowship. It has been a true  joy to see the developing closeness in the men and to have this place to share and grow. I believe the church in general, and this nation for sure, are desperately in need  of Godly men to stand in the places and roles in the church, community, workplaces, and families God has called them to. I will post soon about the recent line of conversation and study we have been on, which is one I think will bless you. It is about  the posture of the heart God calls His people to walk in, and how in God's kingdom humility and authority/confidence are not contradictory, but mutually essential.

God bless all of you. I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for being an extended part of my life.


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