June 30, 2009

Saggy Britches? Worthless Belt!

There are times the picture that scripture paints for us is so brutally clear, convicting, and simultaneously captivating that it's like learning to read all over again and immediately diving into Shakespeare. You're overwhelmed and awestruck - and at the same time have a sense that you have no idea what you've just read and how it all plays out in the scheme of things. It just hits you in the face and makes no apologies!

Enter Jeremiah 13. The prophet is instructed by God to "buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not wash it". After Jeremiah follows the Lord's instructions, he is then told to take the belt to the Euphrates River, hide it in a hole, and bury it. "A long time afterward" God tells Jeremiah to go back and dig up the belt. He does. And Jeremiah tells us that the belt was now "mildewed and falling apart". It was "useless". This whole set of instructions seems a bit ridiculous until we hear God's response. Get ready to dive deep on this one.

The Lord explains to Jeremiah that "As a belt clings to a person's waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory - an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me." What happened to the belt - the mildew and rot - the fact that it had become "useless" - this is what happens to us when our PRIDE separates us from listening to the Lord, obeying what He's asked us to do, surrendering to His will, and leads us to "follow our own desires". We were made to cling to God! And when our PRIDE keeps us from humbly surrendering to Him & to His will, we become "useless", like a rotting, stinking, mildewing belt - falling apart and "good for nothing". Let's face it - if your belt isn't holding your britches up, it may look good, but it's ultimately rendered itself useless. Saggy britches = worthless belt!

Is the Lord asking you to do something - to take a step of faith or obedience - and you're attempting to ignore Him?

Is there an area of your life where you are in desperate need of humility? Where your PRIDE is swollen and needs to be punctured, deflated, and leveled?

Are you clinging to the Lord? Scratching, clawing, and clinging to Him? Digging into His Word like it was the first time your eyes had ever been opened to such truth & beauty?

You were made to cling to the Lord!
You were redeemed & saved by the One who "made himself nothing".

Jeremiah "bought the belt as the Lord directed" him. It had to seem absurd at the time. But He obeyed.

Will you and I do the same?

June 25, 2009


The first part of Jeremiah is a lengthy and sharp rebuke on God's people - for turning their backs on Him and living in a way that exposes their apathy and idolatry. In one instance of pointing this out (Jer. 10:3-5) the Lord says,
"Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree and carve an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won't fall over. There stands their god like a helpless scarecrow in a garden! It cannot speak, and it needs to be carried because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good."

I don't know about you, but I have this built-in mechanism that likes to think that Israel's idolatry - because it was so blatant, physical, and evident - is so much greater than mine. Don't miss that. I admit it. I have idols. And yes, I often think they are much less dangerous to me and far less aggravating to my Creator and Redeemer. Maybe it would help us if scripture actually said things like:

"Your closets are full of clothes you don't wear, while others freeze to death."
"Your homes are filled with HD Plasmas & surround sound - yet you can't seem to see or hear Me when I speak to you and rebuke you."
"How many more iPhones will it take for you to be content?"
"You hang on every word that movie star says and rock star sings, while my Word sits on your shelf, collecting dust.

Jeremiah goes on and proclaims, "The wisest of people who worship idols are stupid and foolish." Ouch! While I am by no means one of the "wisest of people", I don't want to be stupid and foolish either! I don't want the things I'm pursuing and chasing after to be like a "helpless scarecrow in a garden". But the reality is, when I chase after anything other than Christ for satisfaction and worth, it will eventually be exposed for what it really is: a lying, deceiving, empty waste of my time. All those things promise something they cannot deliver.

The hope and truth is always there even in the rebuke.
"Lord, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to You alone. Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like You!"

Maybe I should stop building these stupid scarecrows.
And start burning the ones in my garden!

June 18, 2009


I am finding that there are these moments - many of which we are never watching for or expecting to come - when the Lord finally decides we need to be wrecked. It's as if our heart can be taken like an old boat, tossed up & down in a storm, and smashed into the rocks that we never saw coming. Not only do we not see that we're on a course for the rocks, we don't even realize the storm is brewing. This wrecking is always for a reason. And most of the time - for me anyways - it is so the Lord can remind me that He is my life and His Word is my lifeline.

If you haven't read Psalm 119 lately - or ever - I highly encourage you to take 15-20 minutes to quietly read & meditate on these words. This is in essence 176 verses of a wrecked man, confessing that his life depends on the Word of God. He finds his delight, his hope, his protection, his value, his refuge & shield - he has found everything he needs for life in the law of the Lord. Everything!

There are times when I need to be wrecked. I don't like it, but I know there are days when I need Christ to clean out my closet and interrupt my slumber. I have to be reminded that it's the Word of God that "is full of living power" and cuts deep "into our innermost thoughts and desires" and "exposes us for what we really are." (Hebrews 4:12) And when I'm conscious of this - when I am picking up the pieces and allowing the Lord to piece them back together - I know only to beg that when it begins to happen again...He will wreck me once more.

Have you spent time in the Word of God today?
Are you allowing it to expose the depths of your heart?
Are you hiding it in your heart that you might not sin against Him?

Are you in need of a wrecking?

June 15, 2009

Taking Back Monday

I don't know about you, but some Mondays just bite. They're the Mondays that give Monday a bad name! Today is working really hard to get labeled as such: just got back from a few days vacation; it's cloudy and overcast; several of the staff are still out, recovering from mission trip. It's one of those days! I've realized that during these times I really have to work to find out what the Lord is teaching me and what He desires of me today. It's like trying to hear someone whisper over the noise of a 747. Good luck!

With this in mind, I start asking a question earlier: What is it I'm praying for today? What do I want to see happen in my life by the time today is history? As I pose these questions to myself and lay them before the Lord, here's what I came up with:

- I want to be aware of other people in my life. I want my eyes to be open to ANYONE the Lord might lead into my path that is in need of His touch.

- I long to share the hope of Christ with someone. Whether that's through sharing my story with them or listening to their story, I want to tell someone about Christ.

- I desire for my wife and children to know that they are more important than me - that I have put them before myself. This takes action.

Today, Monday, June 15, 2009 - this is what I desire.
Sure, these probably fall into the "Lifelong Goals" category as well, but today I am focused on today. Remember, today is trying really hard to stink! It's begging to not be remembered. But I'm not letting Monday off the hook so easily. I'm taking back this dreary, overcast, unproductive Monday and demanding something better!

How's your Monday going?
What are you praying & living for today?

June 8, 2009

Why Won't It Be You?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I preach ACCOUNTABILITY like a broken record. I'm sure there are some who have thought (maybe even said), "I sure wish he would shut up about accountability!" The painful reality about this though is that anyone annoyed with this subject or issue is more than likely living without genuine, authentic accountability in their life.

Sadly, I have one more reason today to continue on like a broken record. One more pastor has been added to the list of those who have "given the cause of Christ another black eye". Those are his words! I feel no need to mention the man's name or his church. If you don't know him or them, it really doesn't matter. But I ask you today to pray for him - that the Lord would repair & restore his heart and heal him so that he can be effective for the Gospel once more. Please pray for his family - his wife and children. What they will go through and experience from all of this is not something I can even fathom. And pray for the church - that the Lord would mend their hearts and somehow use this to cause them to grow the Kingdom with grace & mercy. Please pray.

Back to you. Do you have accountability? Do you have someone in your life that you can turn to and confess the ugliness of what might be running through your heart and mind? Someone who won't judge you, but will hold your feet to the fire? And someone who will not wait on you to divulge everything, but will ask you the hard questions? Questions like: Are you in the Word of God? Are you watching, reading, looking at things that are dragging your mind & heart into the gutter? Are ALL the relationships in your life healthy? ALL of them? Do you have this person in your life?

If you don't - this is going to be painful to hear - you need to understand that you are putting yourself in the column of people who once said, "That will never be me!"

Why won't it be you? Because you're too good? Because you're stronger than all those others who fell on their faces? Are you serious?

Do not be a statistic!
Do not go another day without God-ordained, authentic, genuine accountability.
Ask the Lord to provide 1 or 2 people you can turn to.

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16
"As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17
"A cord of three strands is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

June 4, 2009

The Future of The Brook (Impressions & Connections)

One thing we are prayerfully working on here at The Brook is the experience someone has the first (and hopefully second or third) time they are a guest or visitor on our campus. Another way of looking at it is the first "Impressions" people walk away with and the "Connections" we help them make with the body.

Impressions & Connections.

Just this week I read an article by Casey Ross called "The Importance of a Statement". He talked about the power of honing in on a simple statement that gives everyone involved a shot of clarified motivation. In thinking in these terms in regards to the Impressions & Connections people make - and in borrowing from the train of thought mentioned in Ross's article - I find a simple statement I think we can make to corporately articulate our aim:

We make sure every person is glad they came to church today.

In the weeks and months to come we will be taking our Impressions & Connections to the next level. With some very passionate key leaders in place, working together to build this team, there will be an opportunity for more people within The Brook family to get involved: parking team, greeters, connection team - lots of avenues for YOU to join us in "making sure every person is glad they came to church" that day. What a rewarding and worthy use of our time & energy!

In asking you to think and pray about this, I encourage you to go out of your way this summer to put yourself in this position - the position of being a guest. I release you, encourage you, and admonish to take a Sunday and go to a service somewhere that you're fairly confident you won't know anyone. Allow yourself to remember what it feels like to be on the outside looking in - to get re-acquainted with the feelings of knowing no one. Take note and consideration of your first impressions - in the parking lot, at the door, in the service - the whole experience. See if it doesn't ignite a fire in you to come back to The Brook and see to it personally that "every person is glad they came to church today"!