you HYPOCRITE!

that’s right, i’m talking to you.

…and admittedly, myself.

do you ever stop to remember the sinfulness of your own life? i believe that if we all did that every now and then, claims of hypocrisy would cease. man, it REALLY grates my nerves when i hear people screaming “HYPOCRITE” all around me. WHAT irony! they are living hypocritical lives, themselves. who isn’t?

i am a professed Christian. yes, i believe Christ died for me, literally in my place. i believe that He will return, and i believe that in response to this, i am called to a higher standard of living. (we all are, but many of us choose to resist it).

i am also a professed screw-up. i get it wrong, ALL the time. even my altars are in vain.

and quite frankly, i don’t have an issue professing either of these principles. i get it right, and i can comfortably and confidently say that. however, the times i get it right are separated with HUGE lapses of character, which is an unequivocal truth. so, since i am honest about this, am i still a hypocrite? what if i boasted no standard of living at all, would there be basis for hypocrisy? what if you never heard it come from my mouth, but my behavior didn’t change a lick? what if i claimed to be a terrible person, but lived a perfect life? hypocrisy, right? what is worse? the claim, or the action?

you know something i can’t stand, but understand fully at the same time? when non-Christians call me a hypocrite. OF COURSE I AM! did i ever claim to be perfect? seems like you just threw the first stone. BUT, in the middle of my rant, i know that non-Christians likely don’t understand the weight of sin in our lives, so it IS my duty to forgive when they angrily call me a hypocrite. how’s that for a perfect example? still, i don’t understand why that is the go-to response when righteous cause is met with opposition. is that the excuse you are going to hold Christianity to because you don’t feel good enough? is that the attempt to hold the mirror up to me, when really you are scared to look in it yourself? God has given me the authority and duty to admonish you. yes, me, the imperfect, to admonish, advise, and correct you, the imperfect. and He gave YOU the duty to do the same to me.

and to the Christians. you have some work to do, in the way you view the Gospel, and the way you think of other Christians. first, if we understand the Gospel, i don’t think the slander would be so normal. if we are comfortable with confessing how imperfect we actually are, we would likely start to change the way people view Christianity, and more importantly, point them to Jesus. “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” romans 5:8. remember that? followed by “so then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 corinthians 4:12. we are killing two birds with one stone here. combating one claim of hate thrown at us, and putting the Gospel on display.

secondly, how DARE you in ANY way reject the church or the body of Christ. you know what i’m talking about. you Christians who “don’t like church because of all the hypocrites.” or the ones of you that say “i don’t like church because i don’t like Christians.” or “the church is just trying to control us and take our money.”
SCCCCRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTT. back it up.
first of all, do you think you have it all figured out? are you Jesus? no. right, that’s what i thought.
secondly, YOU are a part of the body of Christ. remember how every part is important?
third, don’t you realize that it is those hypocrites that brought your hypocritical butt to church in the first place? your belief in God exists partly because of the fellowship and guidance of those around you. oh, you’ve been going to church since you were a child? well, your parents are hypocrites, too.

sidenote: what arrogance do we carry in calling others hypocrites!

so, in closing my fit of holy anger, i would encourage you to apologize to the next hypocrite you encounter. won’t take you long to find one.

you have work to do. and so do i, beyond belief.

thanks for reading.

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the groan of creation

“i will sigh, and with all creation groan as i wait for Hope to come for me.” – brooke fraser (c.s. lewis)

the other day i went running outside.

*gasp* in FEBRUARY?!  yeah, it was warm and gorgeous outside.  so i took advantage of it and ran for the first time outside in way too long.

i couldn’t help but notice the salvation cries of creation.  they were all around me, inside of me, and sometimes literally hitting me in the face.  Hope is coming for us.

and PTL* for that!

the trees were swaying in the wind.  the sunlight danced in and out from behind the clouds.  the ponds were rippling in response to the breeze.  the geese were honking in all their v-shaped glory.  leaves were floating in the air…right into my face.  (see?)

and i was running.  everything around me was in praise to the Lord.  praising Him in restless anticipation for the day this evil Earth is restored into our final, eternal home.  it makes me realize that when God saw His creation and saw that it was good (Genesis 1:31), He saw it was good because it was a reflection of Him.  a creation for the sole purpose of living a life of praise to Him.  of course, that was screwed up after the fall of mankind, but imagine what the world was like before that.  pristine beyond all imagination, i’m sure.  even in this cursed season of winter, when the evil in the world is SO present that it has an effect on the Earth itself, where life is lost and a time of death is here (see Genesis 3:17), nature is praising with all its might…what it was created to do.  not unlike our lives should be, right?

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55:12

you see, everything was created as a manifestation of who God is.  although i believe that if He displayed His FULL self in creation, we would die because of the sheer magnitude of power and greatness.  even humans are a manifestation of God.  just like the Earth, humans have seasons.  and just as Earth praises in the dead of winter, so shall we…in response to His promised return.

yes…in the february winter, warmth is breaking through, with signs and hope of spring life to come.  warmth’s praise is an offering of life to Him from whence it comes.  think back to one of the many times we had snow this winter.  what a MAGNIFICENT display of creation’s praise.  in the bleak midwinter (you like that poem/choral reference?) the snow serves as a reminder that, in the bleakness, there is beauty.  all dreariness covered in a white sheet.  PRAISE GOD!

tmth.*

lastly, while running in the midst of a praising creation, acutely i became aware of the power of God.  His power, hope, glory, and presence are SO strong, that even the Earth yearns, GROANS for Him.  God, help us have the same response.

thanks for reading.

*PTL = praise the Lord

*tmth = too much to handle

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learning to let go

“if everything is Yours, i’m letting it go. it was never mine to hold.” – audrey assad

i never imagined that one day i would be led to “let go” of my own child.  no, i don’t have human children, but in the mean time, i have two of the cutest pugs you will ever see.

bella, my first daughter, back in october had *we think (are pretty sure)* a stroke that caused her to have seizures.  i suppose now she is dubbed “epileptic.”  after a stay in the emergency room, she was on steroids for a while, and will be on seizure medicines for the rest of her life.  most recently, my wife and i noticed her appetite dropping, severely.  she would turn her nose at ANYTHING.  eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, ground beef, steak, you name it, she didn’t want it.  she lost several pounds (a lot for an 18 pound dog), and got so weak that she would literally fall to the floor if she stood too long.  we had her blood work and a urinalysis done and found out that she is diabetic.  needless to say, we started insulin treatment…even though she hardly ate.  on saturday, january 22nd, we noticed that she looked abnormally weak and could not bear any weight.  if we picked her up, she felt like a rag doll.  terrifying.  we took her to the ER, and on the way, i seriously thought we were going to lose her…my wife later told me that she could feel her body dying as she was holding her in the car ride.  the docs immediately helped her, and come to find out, it was hypoglycemia, or too low blood sugar…because she was getting insulin without food.  i admit i felt a little guilty for giving her the insulin at first, but she needed it because of the ketones in her body that are toxic.  i am quickly learning that diabetes can be a real “catch 22.”  she stayed in the ER the whole weekend until we picked her up on monday morning.  i cannot describe the joy i felt when i saw her on monday.  the doctors had given her IVs with sugar and bla bla that only doctors understand, but she was better…much like the bella i was used to.  after going back to our regular vet and getting her seizure medicine, some nausea medicine, and syringe feeding her baby food, a few hours later she ate.  she ate!!!

little did i know, seeing my dog eat would actually be God revealing His kingdom to me.  it sounds crazy, i get that, but at the time she finally ate, i had learned some valuable lessons in trust…in others and in Him.

you see, where i lack, the Lord makes up for.  and did so prior to any trials with bella’s health.  He knew these things would happen to her, He knew that i would have to be humbled in time to open a hair salon by realizing that bella is not my own but His first, and He knew that nothing i did could make her better.  i had to trust doctors to do what i couldn’t.  but the truth is, i was trusting the Lord who gave them the gifts to take care of my baby.  i can’t explain the helplessness i felt when my dog was in the hospital, out of my care, and in someone else’s.  nobody knows bella better than my wife and me, so how could they POSSIBLY know how to take care of her?  they are doctors, with God-given gifts that helped them become so.  God had His hands on her through the doctors.

i had to radically change my thinking about the way the Lord gives gifts.  why would He only gift the people who follow Him?  it doesn’t make sense to me like it used to.  we are all His children, created in His image.  i personally believe (although i am not sure if it is scriptural, if you know, please tell me!) that God put in each of us a desire to know Him.  whether or not we recognize it for what it is is another story.  but given this desire to know Him, would it not make sense that He would gift us with things as well?  while i was (am) still a sinner, i have gifts, and i am a believer.  what about the sinners that aren’t believers?  these doctors, who i know little about, may or may not follow Christ, but it is their God-given gifts that saved my dog’s life.  yes, her eating was the kingdom of God.

and on top of all this, learning to truly let go of control was the hardest lesson learned…still in the process of learning.  eventually it became my prayer that God would simply hold bella.  too simple of a prayer given my human mind, control, and worry…but God’s sovereignty is so much greater than that…the same sovereignty which led me FINALLY to say “God, i am not asking to see IF you will do it, but BECAUSE you CAN do it.”  so far, He HAS kept my precious bella alive.  He may decide to bring her home earlier than i would want, but even then, His sovereignty is greater, and i would learn something more about His kingdom.  through it all, until the end of her life (which i am hoping is at LEAST 5 years from now) she is a vessel of the blessings, lessons, and surrenders that allow me to see the bigger picture: He is greater, He can do it, and i have to let go.

thanks for reading.

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i know i know…WHAT is a mud-duck?

…i’d be lying if i told you have the EXACT meaning.

the best i can do is try to put into words the image i have of these duck-like creatures from a dream.

somewhere in this dream i stumbled upon a culvert/pipe that i somehow fit into…i guess it was big, although it was almost as if i was looking through a window into the pipe…you know that whacked up dream logic.  anyways.  in this pipe was a mud pit.  yes, the pit where i saw these mud-ducks.  only they were popping up out of the mud into the air, over and over.  they looked like fish out of water, only they were ducks (kinda), and ducks don’t live in mud.  every time they hit air, they couldn’t breathe.  i couldn’t help but think that was odd, because who or what doesn’t breathe air?  on the flip side, as soon as they submersed themselves in mud, their breathing went back to normal.  but they wouldn’t stop.  they kept jumping out of the mud like their life depended on it.  STUPID DUMBS!  they can’t breathe when they do that!

well eventually, after MUCH effort and struggle, they began to breathe air.  everything switched.  if they were do dive back into the mud, they’d drown.  air was what they breathed now.

after this, the mud-ducks faded out of my dream and left me to wake up wondering what in the world it meant.  mind you, i have never really put THAT much thought into dream interpretation and thinking it means something for my life, but this actually had significance for me.

we are the mud-ducks, the mud is the sinful earth we live in, and the air is the presence of God.  i feel as if i don’t necessarily need to take 23948057 more paragraphs to explain the implications of the mud-duck metaphors to the struggle of the human life…it explains itself.  BUT, it struck me to realize that i breathe mud.  i knew that the world is sinful and FULL of evil, but i didn’t ever put it into perspective that i depend on it for survival…or at least it seems that way.  i can’t escape it and no matter what i do, i slip back into it, where i’m comfortable.  the few times i do actually come up for air, it is SO unfamiliar to me.  it isn’t a bad thing by any means, and maybe that is why i keep coming back for more.  one day, praise the Lord, we will get to the point where we can despise the mud and fully live in the presence of God…something that we haven’t fully experienced yet.

i would keep going, but you and i both would be here all night.  let yourself draw your own conclusions.

so this blog is appropriately called “the mud-duck diaries.”  if i don’t abandon this thing and actually post more, i hope to share little tidbits that i pick up on my journey to breathing air.  so hopefully you will learn something (not that i’m that wise or anything…this is not a pat on my own back), maybe you will identify, and i’m SURE you will enjoy.  :)

 

thanks for reading.

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