Let me start off by saying that I’m guilty… or I was anyway. All this construction work you have been hearing about for the last months has all been done without pulling any permits. Yeah, I know. Not a great idea. But, as my building inspector just told me, “The important thing is that you did it right!” He was convinced that I had gotten some help or advice. I told him I’m just awesome… not really, but that would have been great. Dang it! You always think of the good responses way too late.
So,a few weeks ago I went in and pulled permits for everything I have been working on. That was terrifying. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Was I going to be required to undo everything I had already done? Was I going to have to take out my windows, cut out tile to look at the plumbing, tear off sheet rock to look at electrical, and completely re-haul my plumbing after I find out it’s not up to code (even thought it works perfectly fine). Does it mean I have to move out again while I fix everything? How much will it all cost in permit fees and additional work? How much longer will it take when I have a baby on the way who isn’t going to wait for me to finish the work. When baby wants to come out, baby comes out!
I spent a lot of time praying about everything. I went to bed confident that the next day I would go in and pull permits, but then the morning came and I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea anymore. I started thinking about everything that could go wrong and all the money and extra work that could be demanded of me. So, back to prayer I went.
I read about Noah who, “did everything exactly as God had instructed him.” So, I asked Daddy (the Heavenly one), “what do you want me to do?” Immediately and semi-clearly I got, “Go downtown and make this right.” I kept praying, wanting to be sure that this was the right thing to do. “Restore your integrity,” came to me. I started praying about how much this could cost me. “You’re not living for this world anyway… right?” came to me. Then I thought of some verses in 1 Peter.
Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong. But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you. If you suffer for doing right and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.
(Random collage of verses from chapters 2, 3 & 4)
I want you to know that God’s favor rests on his children. Often he shows us unmerited favor that we completely don’t deserve it. I deserve to have been caught in my law-breaking, to pay double the fee for the permits, and to redo everything that I had already done on the house. I want you to know that as I have walked in obedience to His direction and done “everything exactly as God has instructed me,” I have been blessed. I was blessed first with peace. I was blessed second with favor with the building review official who saw the scriptures I was reading while waiting to see him and said, “I gave that same translation to my sons.” I was blessed thirdly with favor with the HVAC and building inspector who showed up at the same time and were extremely kind and did not require anything unreasonable. I didn’t have to tear anything apart for them, they only gave me tips, suggestions, and two requirements that were easy to accomplish. I was blessed by the electrical inspector who told me I had to move my bath fan (anything requiring going into the attic is not fun) but, other than that, he said it all looked good.
Finally it came down to the big plumbing inspection. This one was where the big hurt came. The plumber whom God had divinely connected me with told me that he was going to have to redo everything for the inspection since it was done according to “function” not according to “super-strict Minneapolis code.” He said it would have passed anywhere else, but since the inspector was on his way, we should redo it ahead of time. I don’t blame him for this at all. This was my decision to pull the permits and I was willing to do whatever or pay whatever it took to make it right.
So, Michelle and I slept overnight at a friends house since we had to disconnect all the plumbing to the existing bathroom in order to isolate the newly installed lines and put 5lbs of pressure on them for the inspector. The inspector was gracious, although not entirely happy that I had done work that he couldn’t completely see (like the shower basin/rubber membrane). In the end he said everything looked great and I was good to go! Praise God.
So, how much does it cost to restore 9 months worth of integrity in a matter of weeks? Well, for me it cost almost 2 grand and a month of work to get back to the “same place” I was at before-hand. Was it worth it? Definitely. The process alone of walking in obedience and uncertainty while trusting my Daddy to work it all out in the end was worth my effort in gold. That and the increased and sustaining peace as I responded to Holy Spirit! I would encourage anyone to take similar steps of faith to do everything with the utmost integrity, even if it looks as if you might “lose out”, all the while trusting that Father will provide everything else for you. He is a good Dad who knows how to take care of His kids. You can trust Him. He can easily provide everything I need monetarily, my only concern is to remain faithful to the Way of Jesus.
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19
The final person to beg on Jesus was the healed, sane, clothed, peaceful man himself. When you encounter God and find yourself peaceful, healed and free… maybe even happy?!… then you will find that everything has changed. You will beg Jesus to let you go everywhere he is going. You’re not afraid of the fires of hell like the demons because He has demonstrated his acceptance of you. You are His and He is yours. You have turn from you past and left the cemetery behind. You are a new person all together. All you want is more of Jesus and are willing to give up whatever in order to follow him.
This is who we are today as believers. We are the healed ones. We are made new. We are happy. We are at peace. I declare this over you in the name of Jesus! Be new. Be happy. Be at peace. In Jesus name. If you have always called yourself a believer in Christ but these concepts seem foreign to you, don’t freak out. I would love to talk with you, though. I would love to tell you about the hope we have and the good news. Healing is available. The last thing I want is for you to feel judged because you don’t have these things. Be at peace, not having peace it not the standard, but it does seem to be quite normal for Christians these days. Weird.
Suddenly, an interesting thing happens. For the first time in the story Jesus doesn’t concede to the begging. He doesn’t allow the man to go with him! What the *@#!)$ Jesus?! Why not? All he wants is you. Why deny him that? Has anyone else thought about this before?
Look at what Jesus tells him, “No, go back to your family and tell them everything God has done for you.” Jesus sends him. He commissions him. Not in order to somehow go and gain his acceptance before God. That was already clearly settled by Jesus’ demonstration of love. For the sake of your family, go to them. One of the roles of the Kingdom is to restore broken families (Malachi 4:6). One of the roles in the Kingdom is to tell of what God has done.
Think about this guy’s family. You know what? We all probably have that one crazy uncle that everyone kind of suspects is actually from outer-space… mostly so that they can feel better by disassociating with dude and claiming that his blood isn’t in your blood! Now, image this guy as your uncle!
“So, how’s Uncle John?”
“Well…” *head downcast* “He got arrested again for howling all night (Mark 5:5) and waking the neighbors up who live near the cemetery… which is where he was bumming for the last few years. Good news, I suppose, is that he got away after breaking off 18 sets of handcuffs and fighting off the entire district’s police force. Just to think, He looked SO cute in all his baby pictures!”
Okay, don’t invite this guy to thanksgiving anymore! You know what I’m saying?
But, image him coming home finally. Restored, healed and speaking about all these amazing things God has done for him! Now that would be a great family reunion.
So, what can we get from this story? One, don’t be like the demons who cower in fear at the thought of going to hell. If you are a believer, move past that and enter into His love. If you find yourself afraid of hell in spite of your best efforts to convince yourself that it shouldn’t be so, don’t beat yourself up. You need a savior to break you free. He doesn’t expect you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and “figure it out.” Go talk to a pastor. Get prayer. Even better, go through Prayer Resolution. I promise you will come out on the other side feeling more like the healed man than the demons.
Two, let Jesus have access to your money. Seriously. Ask dangerous questions like, “Heavenly Father, what do you want to do with my saving account?” or, “Is there anyone I know who is in need right now? If so, let me know so I can be an instrument of hope and healing.” Once you realize how many people in your church are hurting and dying whose marriages falling apart, families imploding, and depression is reigning, you may start to see why you have money in your bank account. Get trained as a prayer counselor. Support a missionary. Give more to your local church. Are you willing to spend yourself on behalf of those who are in need? I know so really financially tight missionaries and some really well-off friends. Can you image if someone payed the salary of a full time minister to help those who are hurting?!
Three. Get healed. No shame in it what-so-ever. You need to ask for help. Go through Prayer Resolution. Get rid of the demons, the depression, the anxiety, and the lies. Please be free. Please be healed. And, get trained as a Prayer Resolution counselor. I’m doing a class starting at the end of the month. Check it out. Be an instrument of healing. Be the demoniac who is healed and goes home and starts a revival in his family as he shares what God has done. There are too many people who are hurting and too few people who know how to help people heal in Jesus’ name.
I’ve been in the military for almost 9 years now. My enlistment date is coming up really quick: December 1st 2012. That is when I have to decide to stay in or get out. It’s pretty much the half-way point to the 20 year minimum to retire. If I enlist for a third term, it will most likely be for another 4 years. I’ve served all those year in the 133rd MN Air National Guard as a Structures troop. That means that I’m a carpenter for the Air Force. That’s actually how I started my career as a carpenter, which today is allowing me remodel my home into a place of ministry. I don’t know where I would be without the Guard. I also don’t know what use it is to wonder. Hm…
I’ve deployed twice. Same place both times: Kuwait. After three years away I moved into a dorm room right across the hall from my former living space. The running joke for the first few week among those of us who had been there before was, “I think we were just dreaming and we never actually left this place!” Not much had changed except for the work tempo as all the troops moved out of Iraq and needed a place to stay or transition through. It was a lot of work! I spent 4 months of my life there in 2008 and 6 more months in 2012. On my most recent deployment I got promoted to Technical Sergeant (E-6).
In a lot of ways I feel like Joseph who was blessed at whatever he put his hand to. I know that I’ve served well up until this point. My commander likes me (last I heard anyway), my supervisor likes me, some of the troops under me like me. I’ve gotten numerous awards and recognition for my work ethic and leadership ability. I know I could do well there. Maybe even become Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) if I tried for it (which would be a really great retirement deal!). I am second in command in my flight/shop of 9. That leaves a lot of room for advancement in the future. A few people never even make it to TSgt in their entire 20 years, and I was already there by 8. My heavenly Father’s favor has been on me from the moment I swore in.
Therein lies the struggle. Swearing in? Pledging allegiance? Promising my life to defend a kingdom of this world? Unquestioningly spending myself one Sabbath a month on behalf of my country? Volunteering to be separated from my wife for months at a time? Being trained to kill? Declaring our president as lord (in the very real sense – ruler) of my life? Something isn’t resonating here.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Do not take revenge. Forgive. Love. Killing is okay sometimes?
One of my primary functional theologies is that I can trust God. I can trust him with my finances. I can trust him with my house. I can trust him with my family. And, one of the most helpful, I can trust him to stand for justice on my behalf when I am wronged. But as soon as I take matters into my own hands, I stop trusting His. You just can’t do both. How does that apply to a believer in the military who is going over seas to take revenge, or better yet, a preemptive strike on our enemies? I’m getting sick of all the back-door ways that we are making it seem okay to not live how Jesus lived.
What would it look like to lay myself down on the behalf of other people, even my enemies, and trust that this will somehow change the world and truly end all the violence and evil? Isn’t this what Christ did? He humbled himself and told us that in His kingdom, the greatest are those who submit themselves under others like a servant. His kingdom and the kingdom I am sworn to protect right now do not mix very well. Is it even possible to serve two masters?
If I am a disciple of Jesus, my life should look somewhat like his. He avoided violence and condemned hatred at every turn. I am made in His image. Here is my life.
- I am not applying this conviction to anyone other than me.
- The government does have a role to wield the sword to maintain good order according to Romans 13.
- Yeah, Hitler and all that… I don’t have the answers, but I’m aware of the argument.
- Non-violence doesn’t necessarily mean non-conflict or non-action. Jesus didn’t kill anyone when he drove the money-changers from the temple.
- I believe I earned my right to speak my thoughts publicly by serving America for 9 years in the Air Force.
- Please feel free to voice your opposition. I am fully aware that most people in America don’t agree with me on this, including many in my own family. I probably won’t respond unless it is obvious that it is meant to encourage the dialog, not just to tell me I hate America.
- Maybe this post was a bad idea. But, my primary objective in writing this blog is to tell you what God is doing and has done in my life. This is definitely something He is in the process of doing.
- I remember arguing against this position to a number of people from our old church in an open forum discussion about this topic, so I get it. I’ve been on both sides. As a side note, the forum was held at a local bar and discussed over some brews! I think that’s pretty awesome for a church meeting (even though I don’t drink much anymore).