The Stench of My Sin

September 18, 2008

“Create in me a clean heart Oh God!” – King David

“Oh me what have I done, Oh me what have I done?” – Madeline Adams

“Sin is not just disobeying a law, it’s a missed opportunity” – N.T. Wright

Last week my church put on this drama which I was honored to take part in. I started front and center on stage before the congregation in a white shirt, then a figure in black approaches and proceeds to blemish my shirt with black paint. During this assault I stood there and took it while words were playing on the screens saying: thief, stupid, dumb, ugly, I hate you, I wish you were different, what is wrong with you, etc. With each blow came a word or phrase. Then after the message was given I came back up on stage and all blotted and spotted when a white figure came and struggled to take my blemishes away but I refused until I eventually gave in. He ripped off the soiled shirt and underneath was a pure white one and then we walked off stage as One. It was a very powerful service and one I will not quickly forget.

“Oh Lord, I’m overcome in wanting what is wrong.” – Madeline Adams

I have always had in my mind the image of sin causing a cube in my heart to round into a sphere. Let me explain. My dad gave me this image when I was young, that if you don’t go to Jesus and talk to Him about the wrong you have done then your sin causes your heart to get numb. The effect of sin is that the cube knocks around in your heart with its edges and it hurts, that’s good because that means that you have a soft and sensitive heart. But if you don’t talk to Jesus and come broken and in need of fixing to Him, well then your cube wears down from knocking into the sides of your hard heart and turns slowly into a sphere that doesn’t knock against anything. The inside of your heart gets so calloused because of built up sin and then you have a hardened heart.

“Does God have Himself an X-Ray, to see inside me the stench of gin and whiskey?”

– Madeline Adams

Now my favorite words from God are these “We have no condemnation it Christ Jesus” I love and cherish that! But we need to keep our hearts SOFT. I know that I feel so very dirty and broken when I sin, but when I sin and don’t talk to Jesus about it, that is worse! My sin develops this stench that is overwhelming! I feel that as a Christ follower, when I sin it is worse than when someone who doesn’t know Jesus sins, because I know better and I have the Holy One inside me guiding me and telling me to do right. What excuse do I have? I have none but I have an Advocate in my “Beautiful Jesus” my “Beautiful Savior”.

One of my favorite songs is this; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”.

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,

No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

It is so very important that we talk to the Master about everything; we need to come to Him and worship Him in Spirit and Truth, He commands it and we should want it.

Romans 4:7-8

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

 

Grace and Peace in the Name of Jesus. Amen

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A Great Prayer

August 26, 2008

I am a Independent/(Slightly Conservative) Moderate. I know that is long but “Republican” or “Democrat” does not define me, and the labels “Conservative”, “Liberal”, and “Moderate” do me little justice as well. Sad to say, I think that I will end up voting for John McCain in November but I truely wish I could vote for Barack Obama. I am one of those stubborn Jesus followers who can’t get over the whole “life begins at conception” thing. From my days in High School I have had a deep  LOVE to follow politics and that may be an understatement. So as I watched the Democratic National Convention taking place in my lovely Home State of Colorado, I was attracted to what Donald Miller, author of “Blue Like Jazz” had to say at the close of the first day of the convention. Here is what he prayed:

“Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.

Amen.”

I love that prayer! I ENDORSE THAT PRAYER. I would vote for that prayer. I don’t know where I really stand on the whole political spectrum, I once did until recently when I started listening to people like Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, and Dallas Willard. I have seen a new path toward making policy in our nation that is above “Democrat” or “Republican” and that is the way of my Savior who doesn’t endorse McCain or Obama. I see positions on both sides of the isle that attract me, not as an American Voter but as a Voter who follows and tries to live out the teachings of Jesus, the One and Only Son of the Most High God. I want our next President to follow as much of that prayer as possible, because that is where my heart is and I have a feeling that is where the heart of my God is as well.

DISCLAIMER: Could be wrong, seeking the Holy Spirit constantly for guidance. Just my opinion as a PASSIONATE follower of Jesus and politics.

Feel free to voice your thoughts, I would love to hear them.


Just the Sound of His Voice

August 21, 2008

 “Can you hear me now?” –Verizon Commercial Guy

“He talks with me and He tells me I am His own” – In the Garden

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” – Jesus

“His voice is so sweet that the birds hush their singing” – In the Garden

Sometimes I feel like the guy on the Verizon commercial saying to God “can you hear me now?” and I get nothing.

I can’t get God to hear me. Or He hears me and doesn’t respond to me. I am pleading to Him, and He is silent. What is going on?

God is always talking; I know that for a fact. He loves His people and He speaks to us all the time, it’s just the other end of the conversation that is blocked, we don’t always listen. Story after story in the Bible is filled with prophets and kings talking to God and receiving His directions. I don’t believe that the Bible is full of exceptions; God spoke then but not now? I don’t think so. “If you are a good parent and you give good things to your children then wouldn’t God who is your Heavenly Father give you good things as well?” We speak to our kids and they know what we ask of them, God does the same.

Do you know how many times in the Bible the phrase “He who has ears let him hear” is said? Jesus spoke that phrase 10 times in the Gospels and before that in the Old Testament “ears” are referenced to over 60 times. Rarely, are these passages referring to physical ears in fact Jesus did not refer to just those who have physical ears but spiritual ears that are open or need to be opened. I have been struggling with God over this issue for many weeks. I talk to God almost every night while I am at work by my self, and if some one were to watch me they would think that I a crazy because I talk out loud and it must look and sound very strange. It is mostly a one sided conversation and I ask God regularly to give me ears that hear His words and a heart that is soft like His. I have felt alone even though I know that He is with me and I know He indwells me. In the past I could feel Him correcting me all the time and leading me to a higher kind of life, one that is of His Kingdom and not of my own. But now He feels so distant. I would love to hear from Him, directly and unequivocally, wouldn’t we all? There are brief moments of reprieve and I have put faith in the fact that God speaks to me and I hear Him in small subtle ways. He corrects me and illuminates my path with Truth found in His word and by the working of the Holy Spirit within me. What I feel I need is a moment like Jesus had at the Jordan River when his cousin John baptized Him and God spoke a benediction on His life and mission.

  • “In Him was Life and that Life was the LIGHT of men”
  • “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”
  • “I am especially found of you” – The Shack by William P. Young

Then my world of darkness was pierced by LIGHT! He came to my rescue! He touched me. He spoke and I heard it! GOD had mercy on me and came to me and Spoke into my Soul. WOW GOD, WOW!

This is what I wrote that night when God came and spoke to my soul, not audibility but just as real to me:

“God met me tonight! He told me HE LOVES ME, FORGIVES ME, and He is PROUD of ME. He brought a smile to my face and a joyous laughter to my soul. My face hurts from smiling. He is so good to ME. He ROCKS! God is so COOL. My heart overflows with delight in my God because He told me HE DELIGHTS in ME!”

That’s it, He told me that He loves me, forgives me, and is proud of me. Simple and so very sweet. It all started when I took a ten minute break from my work to stop and talk to God. I told him about my weekend and that I loved Him and that I was sorry for the sin that I had committed in the time between we last talked. I praised Him and called Him “daddy” and “abba” which I don’t usually do, I usually call Him Jesus but tonight I felt like calling Him “daddy” but I don’t feel that that was the “magic” word to use to get God to speak to me, it was just different. I related to Him differently, as my Father and He responded to me differently in kind. It was an intimate moment with My God. I was praising Him and I suddenly felt the need to say “I know you Love me”, “I know you forgive me”, and “I know you are proud of me”. I stopped. That was weird; I don’t do that, what in the world was that? I asked Him “was that you? Are you telling me that You love me, You forgive me, and You are proud of me?” Do you know what He said? “Yes”. I was floored, blown away, in shock. I started beaming with a HUGE smile on my face that wouldn’t go away for like ten minutes, and I couldn’t stop laughing like some one told me the funniest joke and I couldn’t stop. When I calmed down I went to Him and asked is there anything else? Do you want to say anything more to me? I felt Him say “be content”, and I was.

How did this happen? Why did this happen? Why now? I don’t know and I don’t care, all I do know is that God showed me awesome and incredible love. He intentionally spoke the words that I needed to hear and that encounter was…WOW! I feel like He is strengthening me and encouraging me for the road to come. I am starting Seminary next month and I couldn’t think of a better way to go into this time of intensity then with an awesome benediction by my King and Father.


Hate and Why the Left Wingers are NOT the Party of Jesus

July 30, 2008

Many would think that because I am a conservative leaning “Evangelical Christian” that I would write a critique on the Left Wingers involving their support of aborting unborn babies. I have however decided to address the issue of hate as it relates to the politics of the Democrat Party. Now this is not a free pass on the Republicans because I have found hate to be there as well. What I am concerned with and will address is the “in your face” hatred that permeates everything the Left touches which is embraced by the Democratic Party.

You may ask me where do I see this vial hate that comes from the Left wing of the Democrat party, and I would direct you to these websites that are central to its political machine.

http://www.dailykos.com/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

http://www.moveon.org/

Exploration of these websites at the time of this blog finds no particular instance to take issue with; having said that, there have been many issues in the recent past with presumably more to follow. These websites have openly celebrated the deaths of people like President Reagan, Jerry Falwell, Tony Snow, and many others. I understand getting excited about political victories like when the Democrats took control of the majority of United States Government in 2006 but being ecstatic over the death of individuals is crossing the line. But it is not just these websites that I am concerned with it is groups like “Code Pink” and “Cindy Sheehan and her followers” that make me cringe as a centrist minded individual. What is going on here? These are people who go into Senate hearings and wail “Death to Bush” and “Bush loves the death of our Young Men” and they will pour blood out to show their fanaticism. I know there are crazy abortion clinic bombing “Christians” but I have not seen the Right embrace and openly court these groups or individuals like the Democrats have done with the like of “Code Pink” and others.

I love the writings of Anne Lamont who is among other things an author, activist and a Jesus follower; all I have in common with her is the Jesus part and maybe a love for the unloved then again the two are connected. In reading her book “Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith” she tells of her trials and struggles with God and her Christian faith, also included are many references to hatred for President Bush, neocons, and televangelists. My beef is this hatred thing. I don’t understand why someone who happens to be left on the political scale writes a book on faith and feels the need to write about how much they hate the current Administration. I can’t imagine Dr. Dobson of “Focus on the Family” writing a book detailing his faith and personal walk with Jesus and oh by the way his extreme hatred for Al Gore. Now I see the critique coming, “well maybe Dobson isn’t open about his hate for Al Gore and Anne Lamont is up front and open about her hatred of George Bush” I don’t think so, I just don’t see it. I understand that there are many short comings in the “Religious Right” but extreme hatred and ill will for certain political figures I just don’t see. I could be wrong being to close to the “kool aid” for many years some of that might of found its way into my system and has yet to be purged, so pray for me. I am reminded of something St. Augustine said that applies here “she’s a whore but she’s my mother” he said this about the church and I feel the same way about the church and conservatism.

So where am I “left” with in all of this? (no pun intended, can you tell?)

Understand that this is more of a referendum on our political system as a whole where extremists have high jacked our conversation, than a “bash the left and bash the right” campaign on my part. I have come to a point in my spiritual and political maturity where I can see my self voting for an Atheist who is a Democrat and I could sleep soundly at night; if you know me that statement is evidence of a huge amount of growth on my part. I just want to see an open, honest, and respectful debate and discourse in the political community about spirituality and the spiritual community about politics. I’ll leave you with this quote by Shane Claiborne who, being raised a conservative southern Baptist turned moderate Christian activist I find a kindred spirit in, he says this;

“I am stuck between unbelieving activists and inactive believers” .

Well everyone, that’s where I am in all this, I want to be an Activist Follower of Jesus Christ in all I do and all I believe.

Proverbs 10:12

“Hatred stirs up dissension,
       but love covers over all wrongs.” 

 Matthew 5:43

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

AMEN.


Guns and Why the Right Wingers are NOT the Party of Jesus

July 3, 2008
I have had a very enlightening past three months listening to all the media garbage that is out there and finding where I stand in today’s political spectrum. I keep this in mind as I try to find my place; I do this standing on the foundation of an apprentice following the Way of Jesus and His Kingdom first and foremost.

 

I am a recovering Republican and talk radio listener, but I would still consider myself politically conservative. There are many reasons why the Republican Party and the Democrat Party do not represent the party of Jesus Christ. I want to address one of my problems with the Republican Party today, followed by a critique of the Democrats to come.

 

I recently read a story in the news where a man in Texas was just acquitted of any wrong doing in the slaying of two individuals in November of 2007. This man saw two individuals breaking into his neighbor’s house while they were not home at the time. He felt it was his responsibility to intervene in this situation where there was no individual in harms way. This man was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher who was pleading with him not to get involved. This man had a shotgun in hand and kept saying “I can’t let them get away with this” as he was prepping the shotgun to go out and confront the men, the 911 dispatcher was voicing what I believe Jesus would have been saying:

 

“Stay inside the house and don’t go out there, OK? I know you’re pissed off, I know what you’re feeling, but it’s not worth shooting somebody over this, OK?”

The Man said “I don’t want to, but I mean if I go out there, you know, to see what the hell is going on, what choice am I gonna have?

The Dispatcher said this in response, “That’s alright, property’s not something worth killing someone over. OK? Don’t go out of the house, don’t be shooting nobody. I know you’re pissed and you’re frustrated but don’t do it.”

More dialogue followed but this was the last thing the man said before he went to kill the two individuals,

“Well, here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”

He walks out to confront the men at this neighbor’s home and the following takes place.

“Boom! You’re dead!” he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

The two men died there on the scene.

Wow. What goes through your mind reading that as a follower of Jesus? I read this story yesterday in the news and I heard the talk radio hosts talking about it today and the reaction was cold hearted and calloused. They were defending the actions of this man, as if he was a hero that saved a bunch of children from being killed by two monsters. Talk about detached from reality; this was extreme in my opinion.

What is my reaction to all this? I am whole heartedly against what Rush or Sean Hanity have to say about this, because my heart breaks. How can it not? I love Jesus with all I am and I pray for things like this to happen, not the shooting but my heart breaking over this event involving people I don’t even know. I feel overwhelmed. How can we have a State in our Union that acquits a man of any wrong doing in a case like this? He confronted and killed two men who were NOT HARMING any one!

I am as outraged at this almost as much as I am about what the Democrats do in defense of “women’s rights” that leads to 3,000+ deaths of unborn babies each day. Where are we going in America? If the above scenario is what it means to have “gun rights” in America today where we feel it is more important to protect property than to think twice before we go shooting off a shotgun then I don’t want anyone to have any “gun rights”! And if that makes me a wimpy weak liberal to the conservatives then I am guilty as charged because Jesus tells me this “Love your enemies and pray for them” and the Word of God says this in Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised with Jesus, seek what is above where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not what is on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Jesus in God.” Do you see what we are called to do here? Seek the things of the Kingdom, protecting life at all costs, even if that means letting two punks get away with some valuable property. But we don’t get that in America today and the Republican Party doesn’t get it when it comes to situations like this involving guns. By so fervently protecting the Second Amendment they have overlooked the devaluing of human life. Even if they break the law, these two men are still precious in the eyes of God and that life is still sacred to Jesus even if it is not sacred to those in the Republican Party.

A few scriptures come to mind in closing.

“Love your neighbor as your self”

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

“For God so loved the (whole) World that He gave His one and only Son…”

“What you have done to the least of these you have done to ME”

Amen.

 


A Fathers Legacy

June 15, 2008

I hold his face in my hands and my heart fills with an over-abundant and exuberant love for him. Oh how I love him. Will he have passion? Will he have zeal? Will it be for the Master? My hearts deepest desire is for that to be true. Where will he go? Who will he meet? I ask these questions now but they have been asked before. They were asked 50 ½ years ago of a boy named Joe by a dad named Dub. They were asked 22 years ago of a boy named Cole by a dad named Joe, and I ask them now of my son Oren. What do we pass on to the boys we love? What is the legacy we leave? The lyric to this song sums up the Chambers family legacy as I know it from Dub to Joe to Cole and with the blessing of the Almighty to Oren.

 

Carolina Blues

by Tyrone Wells

 

Grandpa was a preacher and he lead the singin too

 and grandma use to yodel and tell us what to do

 and grandpa drove a limousine but just on Saturdays

 and he would tell the crying families about Jesus by the grave

 and he was always smiling and whistling a tune

 Grandpa had the kindest eyes Carolina blues.

Once I knew this girl whose grandpa was a millionaire

 and when he kicked the bucket she was the only heir

 and he left her with everything more than she could dream

 truckloads full of money with a castle by the sea

 but he was always lying as selfish as he could be

 so he left her with empty words and painful memories

 now grandpa didn’t leave me money I could spend

 I guess that he didn’t have much money in the end

but my grandpa was an honest man seeking after truth

and grandpa had the kindest eyes Carolina blues.

Now Grandma had a daughter and then she had two sons

 and one became my father when he and ma were done

 and I might be the richest man to ever walk this earth

 cause I was left with so much more than money could be worth

 and my dad’s just like my grandpa he wearing worn out shoes

 but hes a man that I can trust he always tells the truth

Now maybe dad won’t leave me money I can spend

 my guess is that he won’t have much money in the end

 but my father is an honest man seeking after the truth

 daddy got my grandpas eyes Carolina blues.

 

The only comparable love I can find to this one shared between a father and a son is this from 1John 3:1 “How great is the Fathers love he has lavished upon us that we should be called Sons of God.”

I have received lavish, rich, liberal, and exuberant love passed on to me by the men that bear the same last name as me and how I long to have that said of my love for my son. A fathers love can pierce the heart of a man so deep words cannot express. I find comfort in this passage from Proverbs:

“As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another”

 This is the legacy that I have inherited. There is a strong likelihood that if I don’t screw up this whole fatherhood thing, what has sharpened me will sharpen my son and the generations to come.

Thank you Dad and Grandad.  

 

 


Last C.S. Lewis Post “God is on the Move”

June 14, 2008

It is frustrating sometimes, trying to “feel” God’s presence in your life. I have had my struggles in the past and still do even now through all He has shown me and done for me, I still want to see a miracle or hear a voice or see something “supernatural”. Then then the words “oh yea of little faith” come to my mind, I try but it feels sometimes that living in this media dominated world, that it is harder and harder to live on a strict diet of faith alone. Then I ground my self in the Word and realize the truths that God has reveled to us, summed up; we are not alone. God has sent the “Great Comforter” who is the Third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Take this passage from “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis on the “movement of God” and the actions of the Trinity in the life of a Christ follower.

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God; God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God, that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying, the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on, the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. The whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kind of life.”

Wow that makes me look at my relationship with God in a new way. Do you see what is happening here? God is on the move. He is working in the Christian’s life and moving in it even if he doesn’t “feel” it. Here are two experiences I have had with God in my past.

The first is when I was about fifteen years old when I found myself at an evening church service to prayerfully consider if our church would make my Dad an Elder. There then came a time for members of the church to go up to my dad and pray over him and speak words of encouragement to him. I was taking the time that night very seriously and I humbled myself in prayer to God, asking him to use me in any way he could. Then I felt something I had never felt before and only have felt rarely since then. My heart felt like it was full and ready to burst open, my soul was overwhelmed with this utter feeling to go, go, GO! And somehow I knew that meant to go to my Dad and speak to him. As I walked up to the front of the church I was wondering what in the world I would say to him, what was I doing? A “God thing” happened at that moment and you would think that at such an important point in my life I would remember every word I said but it was like someone else did the speaking for me. I know I said something like, “I am proud of you Dad and you can do this you have what it takes” but I truly believe the words I spoke were from God the Father to my Dad that night.

 The second experience has been an unfolding one. I have been following through with this “Challenge 21” my pastor put before our church two weeks ago, it is a challenge to go four weeks five days a week in the Word of God studying it daily and getting to know the heart of God. I have drawn closer to God through this challenge and I have developed a dependence upon this time with God to preserver through the day.

So what does this all mean? Well ironically enough as I write this blog entry I had a very similarly related study in the Word today with my “Challenge 21”. I studied Mark 8:1-13 and I want to share this passage from it Mark 8:11-12

“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth; no sign will be given to it.”

From this passage I learned this, don’t test God, just believe in him, and don’t always be looking for signs and miracles. The world displays a “dog eat dog” mentality but that’s not the way of the Kingdom. The world needs proof to believe but the way of God and his Kingdom is faith without sight. Trust in him, that his motives are good. He loves it when you trust in him and have faith in him without sight or signs. We as Kingdom people need to show others that faith is to be valued and faith brings about life change. Faith is based in relationship with the Resurrected Christ.