Friday, December 30, 2005

Journal 12/30/05

I am so blessed. The Lord has been so good to me. I find myself whispering the words of Paul in Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Every time I think I have a handle on who the Lord is; he blows me away some more. Every time I feel like I have sinned too much and the Lord hates me and despises me He proves his word true to me. I truly love the words in Romans 5:20 "Where sin abounds grace abounds much more." What that verse means is that no matter how much I sin; there will always be enough grace to cover my sin.

I find it interesting as people have come up to me and said, "Bill, you can't teach that! If you teach that then people will start sinning all the time!" I simply reply, "That isn’t true. Grace is not a license TO sin; it's a license FROM sin." I have been freed and if I blow it or choose to rebel (Which we all have at times) grace covers me and I am free to walk with the Lord. And because of grace all I can do is drop my mouth and say thank you Lord for loving me enough to give me grace when I do not deserve it at all. I am a wretch and I know it; I am the chief of sinners yet the Lord looks past that and loves me. And that blows me away. I am again humbled at the mercy of the Master and I have nothing to say in response to his unfailing devotion to me except, "Thank you".

What else can I truly say to this? The Lord is so incredibly wonderful and I am amazed and grateful in the core of my soul. This journey that I have been on for the last 14 years has been intense. When I surrendered my heart to the One who loves me 14 years ago, I had no idea what would be in store. It has been an incredible ride. It has been easy at times, but difficult most of the time. I have had good times and have been through the toughest times ever. What a journey. And in the end as the dust settles; every time I have had a struggle the Lord has always been there. He has held me and has loved me enough to place me into difficult circumstances. He has been caring enough to get me through the hard times. He has taken the coal in my live and has at times put me under a lot of pressure. And when coal is under extreme pressure for long periods of time; what happens is that the coal begins to change. It turns into diamonds. And I look at all the things that I have been through as extremely difficult heart wrenching pressure; yet the Lord loved me enough to not only allow these things in my life to happen; but I believe he placed me in these places of difficulty because he saw the coal and what the coal could be. The Lord is looking at the big picture and wants to create a diamond out of my broken life. My job is to simply stay put and allow the pressures and the difficulties of my life to do its work. If I move out from under the pressure then I lose out on what the Lord is doing. And I have tried to move out from under the pressure as it is unbearable at times. But by God’s amazing grace; I can only pray that as He has opened my eyes to what he is doing; I pray that I would stay put. I want to stay where this pain torments me knowing that the Lord is producing something so much better than what I temporarily feel.

I really believe that the Lord is taking my soul of coal and is actually creating the rubies and diamonds for my crown that he will give to me on that day that I meet him face to face. I believe that the crown that the Lord will give to us will be the work that He did in our lives and that is why these crowns will mean so much to us and to Him.

What else is this life but to know you my Lord; to live that you might be glorified! I want to be poured out before you as an offering, because I know for you to live I must die. So I will lay down my life because I long to know you and I will cast down my crown at your feet. And I will do what you say because I live to glorify you, be magnified in me.

I will end today’s post with this. We as Gods children are called to die. We are called to die to our desires as we surrender to Him. How do we die? It’s called obedience. Obedience is an interesting word. It has nine letters and if you break it up into three letters each you have obe-DIE-nce. Notice that the middle three letters in obedience is die. We need to simply choose to die and let the Lord live in us. That is what Paul did. He said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He let the Lord live in him because he knew the Lord was devoted to him. I want to be like that. I want to live out the rest of my life on this planet in such a way that I die constantly to the Lords will and allow him to live out his life in me. So again, thank you Lord for loving me. I am yet again humbled by your grace.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Journal 12/26/05

Well all,

The Holy day has passed and life is as crazy as always. We flew 1000 miles away from home and went to California where I am currently blogging from. We will be here until after New Years.

We have a wonderful tradition for every holiday that my direct family has (Wife and kids). Every holiday without fail; one of us gets I told my wife that I think we should not have this tradition any more, but once again we have followed through with this tradition.

A year ago thanks giving I was so sick that I could not eat thanksgiving dinner until Friday. Then last Christmas my wife and I spent it in the hospital as she was sick. We spent my birthday in the hospital as my wife was sick. This year my three year old puked his brains out at the Christmas party last night. He said, "Daddy, I gonna puke" and then proceeded to give me his dinner all over my lap and shirt... very nice. I don't think I will be eating macaroni salad for a while; I am still trying to get off of me even after two

We drove home from this party as I really did not feel like celebrating with regurgitated food over My son decided to continue dry heaving until about 7am this morning...yummy. Then my two year old decided to start this morning....luckily before he ate so it was only dry heaving.

So the tradition continues....I can wait until new years to see what

Anyways apart from all this tasteful excitement; my wife just informed me that she isn’t feeling good....I am going to stay out of projectile reach as I don't want to take yet another I do hope that all of you have a wonderful rest of the week. I know we will after all this excitement passes. Talk to you all soon.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Journal 12/22/05


You have been so good to me even though I have failed you and everyone I know miserably. Thank you for your incredible steadfast passion for me. I thank you that I have had a taste of your glory for you have said, "Come taste and see that the LORD is good". You are good Master. You are the Good shepherd and I am amazed at how much you care for people. You have said in your word that, "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord God, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?" (Ez. 18:23) You also say in EZ. 33:11 "Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?"

You love people and you care for us. Thank you Father. thank you for loving me so much that you have placed your spirit inside of me. I do not deserve this yet you do this because you love me and desire fellowship with me. You love me because you love me. Thank you. I am forever grateful and I look forward to what you have in store for me this next year.

I ask that you would continue to grow me and use me and allow my life to shine as you change me from serving myself only to being a man who serves others because of the love that you have shared with me. Please change me from the inside out Lord. I am grateful and I believe that you will. So thank you ahead of time. On the merits of Jesus alone I ask you to do these things. So be it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Journal 12/20/05

Jeremiah 24:7 says, “Then I will give them a new heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole hearts.”

This verse has been sticking in my brain for the last week or so. We use it with our youth group…we call it our youth 24/7 group. Oh how I wish my heart were fully devoted to the One who loves me twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. How I long for a heart that would never stray from the Master of my soul.

It has been a sobering week for me. I have been looking at how hard my heart is and how my sins affect everything. I have been pondering on how bad I have fallen in the depths of my heart and how desperately I need to return to the Master for cleansing. I understand that I have a choice and so often my heart chooses the wrong things and the next thing I know…..I have once again wandered away into the wilderness. And if it were not for the LORD’s faithfulness to me; I would die. I can see in my minds eye the Lord leaving his flock of lambs as he looks for me in the wilderness. I hear his voice yet am so ashamed to respond and only in desperation and fear I cry out for the Master to help me when I here Him calling out my name. I don't want Him to see the pit that I have fallen into. Yet I am alone and afraid. And in his devotion to me, He once again frees me from the bondage of the pit and He places me in His arms where I feel secure and loved though I am bruised and battered.

This is what I find happens to me. I see sin….and it looks tasty yet it will never yield anything good. I bite this fruit and it starts to affect my heart like a weed. It then starts to affect my love for the Lord. I start to get hungry as this fruit never satisfies; but my appetite has been spoiled (Like candy before dinner). I then no longer hunger for the Word of God. I no longer thirst to pray. And in this state that my heart is in when I am in this darkness; my relationships with others start to see the fruit of this unrighteousness. It affects my relationship with my wife as I become irritable. Then it affects my relationships with everyone else and I start to distance myself from the ones who care about me. And in the end when all is said and done; all that this sin in my heart has produced is bad fruit and weeds.

Every action that I ever do will yield fruit of some kind. So I have been asking myself; am I yielding fruits of righteousness or weeds? And if I am to be honest; as I have pondered this over the last few days…..I have been producing weeds. So I have been focusing on repenting in my heart of hearts. I feel as if most of the last 3 years of my life I have planted weeds that now are choking the fruit that the Lord had grown through me. And I feel convicted. I love conviction as it always puts me back into the arms of Jesus (Thank you Father for convicting me of sin).

So I ask all who read this to please pray that I would be consistent with the Lord. I am so tired of going back and forth. Please pray that the sin that tends to have a stronghold in my heart would lose its appeal and that I would see it as it really is….a rotten, maggot filled lump of vomit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Journal 12/15/05 - Humble Pie

Humble Pie….that is what I tend to eat these days. And my poor wife has had to deal with me speaking to her as if she were my toddler and not my best friend. Jessica; will you forgive me for speaking to you the way I have been lately? I did not even realize that I was doing that and I do apologize sincerely. You are my passion and my best friend and I am bummed that you have had to bear with me with my “tone” of speech. Again I love you with all that I am; and I pray that I would grow in this area of my life.

I would not be the man I am today or be able to do the things I do if it were not for the sacrifices that my wife has made. For example, let’s take ministering to the youth. My wife has had a burden for the youth for many years and I have only had a burden for them for this past year or so. Yet we don’t have a baby sitter on Thursday nights so my wife gets to stay home with the kids while I go out and minister to the high school kids. I am able to do what I know the Lord has called me to do and my wife can’t do that because in order for her to do that I would need to stay home. She is such an incredible example of how to love sacrificially. She does it every day and I bet she doesn’t even realize it. Thank you my love……you are the greatest thing that has happened to me apart from my salvation. And I still sing the song that the Lord gave me for you in my heart continually, for you are my butterfly and always will be. And may I say this as well; you are to me a lily amongst the thorns. Thank you for loving me; the unlovable.

So I wrote this song to my love 1 year before I asked her to marry me. I never told her that the Lord gave me this song for her; I hid it in my heart until the day I asked her to marry me. When I did ask her to marry me I played some worship songs with her and threw this song in the mix and then asked her to marry me. These are the words that the Lord gave me and they ring so true…I had no idea how true these words would be when the Lord gave me this song; but looking back the words have been so true. Here is the song:

My Butterfly

I want to say just what I feel
I thank You Lord for a love that’s real
You bless my life, I want to fly
I want to fly with my butterfly

Will you spread your wings and fly with me
Together now until eternity
This love we share does not compare
To a very rare diamond or ruby

Will you take my hand and fly with me
Through the winds of life, together we’ll see
The hand of God will guide you and me
Through the deepest seas, into the Heavenlies

With you in my life I can clearly see
What people call fate or call destiny
My butterfly, we are meant to be
I want the world to see how much you mean to me

I love you my butterfly
I want to be with you till I die
You are a precious gift to me
I want to fly with you eternally

I thank Jesus for a virtuous
Friend I have in you this is true love
My butterfly, we will fly
Into the skies, into the skies

I love you my butterfly
I want to be with you until I die
You are a precious gift to me
I want to fly with you eternally

I want to say just what I feel
I thank you Lord for a love that’s real
You bless my life and I will fly
Into the skies with my butterfly.

Again Jessica, I am sorry for talking to you like a child when in fact I am the child for talking to you that way. I love you my love.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Journal 12/12/05

So the holidays are upon us yet again. Wow it comes and goes so fast. I mean I just blinked and now I have been married for five years and I have three kids (Well, I have four kids…but three are with my wife. I have a 13 year old from when I was a teenager who lives out of the state). Where does the time go? I still feel like I am sixteen and my twenty-twelve birthday is fast approaching. Where is all the time going?

I have been thinking about this lately. November 16th was the anniversary of my dad’s death. He was killed when I was eight months old. He was twenty-four years old when he was shot by a 14 year old boy and hospitalized. He died 6 days after he was shot. He has been dead for thirty-one years. He has been dead longer than he was alive. That amazes me. I have lived a longer life than my father and I am only thirty one years old. And I still feel like a child myself. His life was just a dash (Born – died). He was born and then he died. The dash on his tombstone was all that his life was… was here and then it was gone.

So now I have been thinking about my dash….what will I do with the dash of time that I have on this earth? Will I live for myself? Probably! Will I help others? Maybe, but most likely not. Will I live selflessly? Highly unlikely; I will most likely live selfishly. That is if I am left to myself. But I am not.

I now have the Spirit of God living inside of me. I would hope that as the Lord grows me that I would stop looking at myself only and start seeking Him and at some point I would live a noble life where I could bless others even when it hurts me and I have to do it sacrificially. I desire that, yet am nowhere near there. I see that desire upon the horizon of my life and yet it’s so far away from who I am that I feel as if I will never reach that goal. I want to have a life that means something. And every time I live for myself it truly is meaningless.

We don’t have a lot of time. And because man was not created to die; (the wages of sin brought death) we live as if we will never die and that is because we have eternity in our hearts. And because we have eternity in our hearts we think we have more time than we really do. And in a moment it is over. We are dead and that is it. And when I stand before the Lord as everyone will one day; I can only pray that something was done in my life that mattered. As I stand before the One who fashioned me and molded all the good qualities in my life (If there are any….lol) I can only pray that I used these things in my life; these qualities that the Lord has given to me in a way that ministered to Him. Eternity is a very long time. And because my life is just a dash; I would hope that I would spend whatever time I have left in a way that would bless others and bless the Lord. I would hope that I would start doing what I know is right and would quit playing on the fence of inconsistency. I pray that the Lord would stabilize my life and cause me to life in a way that is solid. Time will tell…..that is, whatever time I have left.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Journal 12/8/05

Oh the sin nature never let’s up! One minute you are walking in perfect communion with the Lord and then the next minute you are battling the flesh. It’s like a wrestling match. I feel as if I have to place my flesh in a choke hold just so I can rest and breath. But then I get tired of keeping my guard up and want to rest and as soon as I do that…BAM!!!! I am punched by my flesh and the wind is knocked out of me.

So then I have to call upon the Lord again as I start to lose this fight. I hate this battle between my flesh and my spirit. My only hope is that when I die I have the promise from God himself that I won’t have this inner struggle anymore. He has promised me salvation and salvation consists of three different things. They are: Justification; sanctification and glorification.

These three things are linked together like a chain. You cannot have one of them you need all three in order to be delivered from the consequences of the sin nature. Most people think salvation consist of just the 1st item; Justification. That could not be further from the truth.

Justification deals with the penalty of sin
Sanctification deals with the power of sin
Glorification deals with the presence of sin.

Most people think about salvation as just being forgiven only. I was saved on this or that day….etc. What they are saying is that they were justified on a specific day and the penalty of their sin was dealt with at that time. But that is only the 1st part of salvation. You cannot stop there.

It’s like this: Justification starts the process of salvation. Sanctification is the part that we live out. And Glorification is the end process of our salvation.

That is why when the Bible tells us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” we don’t need to get all worked up and scared. It does not say…”Work FOR your salvation….” But rather, “Work it out”. In other wards, walk in holiness and let the Lord set you apart so that he can wash you and you can be clean.

Philippians 2:13-14: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

I love the fact that the Word tells us to work out and then it says that it’s the Lord who works in us. This is fully dealing with the middle link of the chain of salvation…..Sanctification. And I also love what the word implies here too. When we try to clean ourselves…it’s only outward (Work out…) but when the Lord does the cleaning it is always inward (Work in). Thank you Lord for washing me clean from the inside out.

So now going back to my thoughts from the beginning of this post; I hate the process of being washed all the time. I hate the fact that I absolutely love being dirty most of the time. And I hate the fact that I desire to be clean even more than I desire to be dirty yet I battle back and forth with these two things…..I hate the tug-o-war. My hope is in the fact that once I die; sin will no longer attack me from the inside. I will be clean as the Lord gives me a new body that is sinless. I simply cannot wait. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas to come….as there are so many similarities. The child waits for Christmas and I wait for Christ. The child waits for presents to open; I wait for the Lord’s presence.

Oh how I long to be free from this body of death and I hunger for the day in which the Lord himself will complete this process of salvation and I am thoroughly clean from the inside out!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Journal 12/5/05

Oh how the Master is passionate for people! How the Lord desires to bring us into a safe haven where He can sit with us and love on us with all that He is. The problem is our sin nature. God told us that He is like a consuming fire by nature. He is so holy, pure, undefiled and clean that by nature he is a consuming fire. And we as fallen creatures are like dried up leaves that have fallen from our life source and have withered as we have dried up. With our sin, depravity and unrighteousness we are like dead grass. What happens when you place an all consuming fire and some dead leaves together? By nature the fire consumes the leaves…it is never the other way around and the two can never be joined together and coexist. Even if the fire loves the leaves; they simply cannot coexist as the laws of nature will not allow them. As soon as the fire tries to hug the leaf; the leaf is devoured and consumed.

So the passionate Master in all His wisdom and glory creates a way for us to sit with Him and not get burned or devoured…He decided that He would burn and even devour His own Son; and the life sustaining blood of Jesus is the fire retardant we can use to come to the Father; the All Consuming One and not be burned up like chaff.

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for the Father as He goes out of his way to create a way for me to come to Him. And now with the protection of the blood of Jesus; He bids me “Come”. He states that I can now enter into His throne room freely and as often as I want. I can come boldly and confidently knowing that He will sit with me and love on me. I do find that there is no better place than sitting with the One who loves me.

We have such a great God as Christians and with the blood of Jesus protecting us something new happens as we are in the presence of God. The Consuming One now is able to cleanse us the same way as fire purifies gold when the two meet. As we sit with the Master; His nature remains the same. He consumes….and with the shield of Jesus’ blood the only thing that gets consumed are the impurities that we have in us. The Fire purges us and the more time we spend with Him; the cleaner we get. We can never sit with the Master and walk away the same….NEVER. Every time we sit the Master we walk away different…we walk away cleaner…and that is what blows me away.

The contrary is also true. The longer we stay out of the presence of God; the dirtier we get. That is why at times Christians can be real jerks….because they are unholy, unclean and simply stink as they have lived in the trash of this world. They have not sat with the Father who cleanses them and washes them clean.

I have not sat with the Master as I ought, and man do I stink; but I tell you this simple truth; he bids me to come and so I will. The question now is: Will you?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Journal 12/2/05

I received a nugget this morning as I was reading the Word and spending time with the Lord. I don’t know if I can articulate what the Lord shared with me easily but I will try.

We know that the book of Luke is volume one and that the book of Acts is volume two. We know this because in the 1st verses of each chapter in both books (Luke and Acts) was written to the same Roman official (Theopolis) and both books were written by Luke. We also know that the reason these two books were written was to defend Christianity and to defend Paul who was in jail for preaching Christianity. The book of Luke talks about what Jesus did before his death and resurrection and Acts talks about what happened after Jesus rose from the dead through about the first 30 years of the church. So both books combined deal with about 33 years of history….which was also the age Jesus was when he was murdered (I found that interesting).

We also know that it was illegal to preach any new religion without getting it legalized by Rome. And the reason Luke was writing these books was to show Rome that this was not a new religion as the Jews were proclaiming but this was the same Judaism that the Jews believed and that Jesus simply fulfilled the scriptures that the Jews believed (which is our old testament).

Ok, with all that said I was reading Luke chapter 4. In the end of chapter three is where Jesus is baptized and chapter four is where he goes into the wilderness and fast for 40 days. As he is fasting he is tempted and tested by the enemy of our souls. Once that ends he leaves the wilderness in the power of the Spirit of God and begins his three year ministry.

The Old Testament brought us the law. “Do this or that and you will live or die...” And Jesus brings in the law of grace. “Because you can’t do the law….this is what God will do…” etc.

This is what the Lord showed me.

Moses represents the Law…in Deut. 9:9 Moses is on a mountain and is fasting for 40 days while he receives the law.

Elijah represents the prophets of the Old Testament. After he destroyed the false prophets of Baal he runs for his life. He eats some food and in 1Kings 19:8 he takes off and doesn’t eat for 40 days.

Then there is Jesus who again represents the Law of Grace; he also fast for 40 days in Luke 4:2. We also know that the number 40 is the number for judgment and that the Lord is 3 in 1 (Father Son and Spirit). So you have three different people representing three parts of the scripture and we know that the whole of scripture proclaims God’s judgment. So you also have:

The Father = Who represents the Law
The Spirit = Who represents the Prophets
The Son = Who represents the Law of Grace

Each of these three parts of scripture brings a form of judgment and accountability to every person. You have all three parts of the God head represented through our entire cannon of scripture (The Law and the Prophets and the Law of Grace).

Going back to the Luke text; Jesus fasted. And we also know that Moses and Elijah fasted. In Luke chapter 9 we see Moses, Elijah and Jesus all together on the mount our transfiguration. So you have all three parts of the scripture (in a sense) dialoging over what’s about to happen with Jesus going to the cross.

We know that in Romans 3:19-23 it says that you cannot be justified before a holy God by doing the works of the law. It says that the law (the Old Testament) was given to us to show us how dirty we are. The Law was given to us to prove that we have violated God’s moral law of righteousness and that we are condemned and stand guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20).

In Romans 3:21 though it says that there is a righteousness that we can have that the Old Testament can’t give us and that the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) have witnessed this righteousness (I believe the righteousness that they witnessed was Jesus himself who brings in the law of grace just like in Mathew 17:1-8).

In the middle of Luke chapter four Jesus quotes from the Old Testament. He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2 and stops in the middle of verse two. Everything that Jesus read was about grace. And right where Jesus stopped reading in Isaiah deals with Gods judgment in the end times. So what Jesus said in laymen’s terms was this:

“Dude here I am to bring the rest of God’s plan for mankind as I bring the gospel of grace. In the future when I return I will bring the judgment to come but for right now I am bringing grace.”

Everyone who was there in Luke four and was listening to Jesus on that day (Luke chapter 4:22) marveled at Jesus’ gracious words. In the Greek the term "gracious words" is literally “Words of Grace”.

So here we are you and I who now are recipients of the grace that Jesus brought to mankind in Luke chapter four. I thought this was pretty cool.

Anyways, I don’t know if this makes any sense to you, but it sure makes a lot of sense to me….lol and I thought all of this was interesting. The Lord simply opened my eyes this morning to all of this and I was blown away at the grace of God found in that text.

I didn’t even touch on the whole testing in the wilderness that Jesus experienced and how it relates to the same testing that Eve went through in Genesis chapter three. Eve dealt with temptation the wrong way and sinned and Jesus dealt with it the right way and had victory….that is a whole new nugget to dig into. If you are interested; then I would be more than happy to share that whole thing that God did in that part of the text too.

I better cut this short as I know that long blogs like this can be too much sometimes. I hope you are blessed and ministered to through this and I pray that I was able to share this clearly so that you don’t walk away more confused now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Journal 12/1/05

Why do I journal my struggles and victories for the whole world to see?

I journal my heart and soul online and want the world to see it because I have found in my personal experience that most of the Christians that I have had good relationships with never dealt with the issues of the heart because they were too afraid that they were far worse sinners than the rest of us. And when a person comes to Jesus and sees his/her sin and then looks at a person who has been saved for awhile; they tend to think that the one who has been saved longer has it dialed in and then the newer believer doesn’t deal with the issues of the heart, they bury it and then down the road they struggle with major sin because they were too afraid to expose themselves in the 1st place.

So I decided that I would journal online so that the world could see that even though I have been a Christian for many years now (I think 14 years)....that I still do not have this thing dialed in. I still struggle and I still have highs and lows. I want to be an open book so that when a new believer reads my entries, they can relate to it and see that though I struggle and they struggle, in the end, the Lord works it all out. Does that make sense? That is why I journal online.