AWAKEN

AWAKEN
AWAKEN NOW!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I KILLED MY BROTHERS

We are an uptight lot for sure.

I think many of us have had to fight our way out of so many predicaments we’ve just become militant in our approach to life. You’ve heard the old idiom “wearing rose colored glasses”? You understand its meaning, right? If you’re wearing rose colored glasses everything you look at has a rose (unrealistically positive) tint. Likewise, when we wear angry, militant colored glasses everything we view is tainted with anger.


SHUT UP! DON’T TELL ME HOW TO RAISE MY KIDS!

One afternoon, during the week of October 16th, I was sitting on a beach in Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina. The sun was shining upon me, replenishing my depleted Vitamin D count. A cool breeze was stroking my face, filling my nostrils with that heavenly, fresh oceanic, salt watery aroma. Surrounded by my three beautiful ladies (and the X-Man of course), I was watching Josiah and Judah play in the tide. I was about as close to heaven on earth as a poor man can get. That is until a feminine presence I had never met before walked into my utopia and usurped my rapture.

She arrogantly asked, “Are those your two boys out there in the water?”

Only a fraction of a second elapsed between her question mark and my response, but my mind can cipher as quickly as a calculator which gives me the uncanny ability of shooting my mouth off without first loading my brain.

The first thought that came to my mind was: I’m going to rip this woman a new one! Comin’ over here to tell me I need to keep a better eye on my boys. Who does she think she is?

My blood pressure shot up about 20 points and I let her have it! Well ... not really.

I said, “Yes, ma’am.”

And that was it.

Whaaaat? I was shocked. Did I just suppress my pent up rage against people that think they know more about raising my children than I do? Yes. I did! I was really proud of myself. Instead of letting her have it, both barrels blazing, like the younger, dumber, less tempered me would have, I answered her like a normal person should have. Woo Hoo! I may not be going to hell after all.               

She said, “We saw five large sharks swimming off the pier right down from them.”

SHARKS.

Ok. Now, let’s break this down. I almost Lamb-itized that (not so arrogant) woman for ... trying to save my sons from being eaten by Jaws.

A feeling of stupidity melted my face–it dripped onto my fresh, fly, black t-shirt as I ran into the water to retrieve my sons. Humble pie, ya’ll?

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

Anyone that knows me, knows I am typically a kind and patient guy, but those feelings weren’t kind or patient and they certainly weren’t justified.

Can I get real with you? The anger that rose up in me toward that woman didn’t shock me. It wasn’t the first time I wanted to explode on someone and, sadly, it probably won’t be the last. I hate that about me. I’m talking to God about it every day. He’s helping me. I’m much better than I was, but I still have a ways to go.

Unfortunately, I have become very aware of a deeper issue that lies within me. I can be militant. Truthfully, I find the ease with which I can go to war shocking and troublesome at times. I haven’t thrown hands in over twenty-two years, but I’ve thrown innumerable verbal Karate chops. Because of my anger issues, I’ve knocked out some real heavy weight bruisers ... and a few Girl Scouts, too. I’m awesome like that. Pray for me.


Now, let me ask again. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

The answer to that question is actually quite easy to render. I have been fighting my way out of messes since I was two years old. Losing your father before you even know what a father is can really jack you up inside. Just believe me when I say I have had to deal with some real emotional issues, including bitterness toward God.

AREN’T CHURCH FOLK AWESOME?

The Lord saved me when I was eighteen years old. Having been raised in and around church my whole life I naturally migrated toward the churches I knew. I also tried to believe every doctrine those saints had taught me. But then I started reading the Bible ...

I noticed a great many discrepancies between what they taught and what the Bible taught. They preached doctrines that weren’t mentioned in the Bible. And, while reading the Scriptures, I discovered there were many truths that I had never even heard spoken. It was confusing.

I loved them and didn’t want to leave their fellowship, but I was a whippin’ snappin’ whippersnapper on fire! I didn’t know any better but to believe what the Bible said. I thought that was what everybody was supposed to do. The Word of God excited me. I thought everyone would want to know what God was showing me. Nope and ... Noper! There’s something about having a punk (whose been saved eighteen seconds) telling you what you’ve believed your whole life is a perversion of the Scripture.

During these confrontations, I discovered something very interesting. Doctrine has a way of weaving itself into a person’s personality, into the very fiber of their being, so when someone attacks their doctrine they feel like they’re being attacking. I can relate. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish what is an ad hominem attack against you and what’s merely an affront on an ideal you subscribe to.

Let me illustrate:

    “How dare any one talk about my Grand Pappy like that?”

    “When did I say something about your Grand Pappy?”

    “Well, you said Grand Pappy went to hell!”

    “I did? When?”

    “Don’t you lie! You said you believed in that ol’ rapture doctrine! My Grand Pappy preached again’ that!”

And that’s kind of how it works! Doctrine becomes a part of you. If your ideas are attacked you may think you (or Grand Pappy) is being attacked. We need to change that way of thinking. It isn’t healthy. Someone can love you, live peaceably with you, and disagree with you on certain issues. We must learn to agree to disagree. Furthermore, life isn't altogether about what you tear down. Learn to build some things up. You and I may disagree on a few things, but I guarantee you that we agree on several other major issues. Why can't we meet there?

I wish I had of handled things better during that season of life, but the church folk didn’t make it easy on me. Instead of them sitting down and counseling with me, teaching, and explaining the Bible to me, they shut me out. They treated me like I had the black plague. I would try to preach, testify, or sing and they would just sit there, stone cold and glaring. They showed me quickly that I was no longer “one of them”. They shut me out.


I still wanted to be a part of them, but the only way to be a part of them was to be exactly like them. I’m just not wired like that. We were at an impasse. When it became apparent they weren’t going to stop calling me a devil, false teacher, and all around deceiver of the nations, I had to find somewhere else to go. They fought me all the way out and kept fighting me long after I was gone. Eventually, I had to completely cut ties with them. I became bitter, but I also became a fighter.

I started wearing my angry, militant colored glasses with pride. Every person I knew and trusted was gossiping and/or lying on me–at least that’s what I thought. I was at war with nearly every person I knew. I never took my battle gear off! I was in round-the-clock war mode! Being a fighter can be good, but throwing hands at every person you meet, no questions asked, isn’t. I had been hurt so bad and had become so militant that I couldn’t even have a conversation without arguing. No one could question me. No one could reason with me. No one could approach me. I was going to throw the first punch even if it killed me. In my mind, I was engaged in a holy war. I hurt them because they hurt me. And then I realized I was good at hurting people with words which enabled me to win a lot of battles! Sadly though ... I truly feel like I lost the war. I did so much damage to them, I lost them all ... maybe forever.

Do you remember the beach? The sharks? My sons? The woman? My burning desire to blow her up without even hearing her out? The man I became in the early years of my ministry is still floating around in my heart and tries to come out from time to time. He needs to die.

SAMSON: I HAVE REAL ENEMIES TO FIGHT

A couple of weeks ago, while reading the fifteenth chapter of Judges, I came across an amazing episode in the life of Samson.

Samson had burned the fields of the Philistines to the ground. They were angry, so they come after him. The Philistines went down to Judah trying to locate him. The men of Judah decided it would be better to betray Samson than go to war with the Philistines.

3,000 men of Judah apprehended Samson and took him to the Philistine’s camp, but the Spirit of God came upon him, empowering him to break the cords that held him captive.

What do you think he did next? Do you think Samson killed his brothers that had incarcerated him? He could have. He may have even been justified to do so. What would you have done? Would you have marked them as an enemy, killed them, and then killed the Philistines?

Yep! I probably would have, too. But not Samson. I fear this may be a rare occasion where Samson had more integrity than most of us would have displayed. Instead of destroying his brothers, Samson killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. He had real enemies to fight. He didn’t have time to fight his family. He knew the men of Judah were motivated by fear and self-preservation. They were doing what they thought was right. He wasn’t angry at them. HE COULDN’T KILL THEM. HE WOULD NEED THEM LATER. Ponder that, please.

I want to share a poem with you:

    "They drew a line that shut me out,
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout!
    But love and I had the wit to win
    We drew a circle and brought them in."

    - Edwin Markham

This may be the single greatest poem I’ve ever read.

I can’t control who draws a line to shut me out, but I can control where I draw my lines. I can choose to draw them back in!

The men of Judah drew a line, shutting Samson out. Samson drew his own line bringing them back in. He was bound by his brothers with cords, but they couldn’t bind him with bitterness and anger. Let's learn from Samson.

The Jews drew a line, crucifying Jesus, shutting Him out, but He drew a red, bloody circle around them, allowing all of us to enter into Him! Let’s learn from our Savior!

NO STRENGTH LEFT TO FIGHT

After killing 1,000 enemies Samson collapsed, dehydrated and despondent. He pondered death. He had killed 1,000 enemies, but was now going to die of thirst.

What would have happened had Samson killed the 3,000 men of Judah first?

Well, first of all, he wouldn’t be able to kill all 3,000 men of Judah. 1,000 Philistines were almost too much for him to handle. He would have been slain by his own brethren.

Secondly, even if he had of killed all 3,000 of his brothers, he wouldn’t have had any strength left to fight the Philistines. He would’ve expended all of his energy fighting his family and then died at the hands of the enemy.

I wish I had of learned this lesson 20 years ago. I may not have severed so many precious people from my life. Instead of fighting people all the time, I could have preserved my energy and done some real Kingdom business.

While I watch churches battle churches and Christians war with each other over preferences and non-salvic issues, I understand why there’s so little ministry going on in our churches. People are too tired; they don’t have enough energy left to fight the devil.

You see this every day on Social networks. People read stuff into posts and tweets that aren’t even there. Hurting people hurt people and hurting people expect people to hurt them. Folks that wear angry, militant colored glasses think every one is talking about them. Regardless of how benign the post or comment is they see themselves in it. When you have war in your heart, you’ll have war on your eyes. You need to throw those glasses away!

FORGIVE: YOU CAN GO FREE FROM THE CORDS THAT BIND YOU


The wounds people have inflicted upon you may have caused you to approach life negatively. Because someone traumatized you in the past you now expect every one to hurt you ... sooner or later. Are you struggling in your present relationships and don’t know why? Check yourself. See if what you’ve went through in the past is causing you to self-destruct in relationships now. Ask God if what you went through in a past church is affecting your commitment to the church you’re attending now.

Forgive people that have wounded you. Not for their sake, but for yours. Forgiveness breaks the chains of anger, bitterness, and hurt off of your life. It will allow you to fight real enemies and build the kingdom of God. It will allow you to have peace again. And who knows? You may even be able to restore some broken down relationships.

I can honestly say that I've been freed from many of the ropes (traditions, attitudes, false doctrines, lies, etc) that the people in my past have tied me up with. I’ve decided to stop fighting them because ...

I'VE GOT REAL ENEMIES TO DEFEAT! 


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I CANT WAIT TO LOVE FACEBOOK AGAIN!



I love FB, I always have. For me, it is a vital part of "Go ye into all the world..." I'm able to preach and teach at the drop of a hat and be the one that drops it. I'm able to request prayer and immediately have a million people praying. I'm able to scan my newsfeed in order to make my prayer list fuller. I am often engaged in simultaneous conversations with half a dozen frustrated pastors from all over the country, sharing my opinion and experiences with them. I'm able to communicate with Pastor Heavens Kanduna about our churches in Malawi and Mozambique. I'm able to see what God is doing in other churches. I love that.

When I travel, I use it as a means of accountability, checking in at every state line. It allows my bride to know how close or far away her man is from home. It enables the saints of Revival Tabernacle to know when pastor will be back. LOL! I love that.

It gives me a chance to learn a little more about the people I love. It also gives me an opportunity to share my family and our life experiences with them, too. It helps me see life from another perspective. I get to visit places like Italy, India, Uganda, Spain, Nicaragua, etc through my friends. I love that.

I know it's weird, but I kind of like seeing brothers brag on their wives and children and proudly posting pictures of date nights and family outings. It gives me hope for America. I love that.
I like knowing when you kill a big buck or hook a 4 lb bass. I rejoice when you get a new truck or house. I like funny memes with witty sayings about things like us manly bearded men being superior to our smooth faced, effeminate peers. LOL. I like how you can make any picture or statement non-offensive by adding an LOL after it. You see how that works? LOL. I really love that.

I love Facebook, but not today or the past couple months; not since the election has gotten really nasty. I find myself not wanting to look at my newsfeed anymore. I know. I know. I need to toughen up. But actually ... I'm about as tough and thick skinned as can be. I can "not" care what you think in about .000000001 seconds flat (if I want to), but I typically don't want to. I actually like caring and feeling and do so deeply. The truth is very few things bother me and there's only a couple handfuls of people who's opinion of me really really really matters. The thing I love about FB is now the thing I hate about it. Oh, the irony. I'm learning too much about the inner workings of people's minds and hearts. It has made me want to withdraw from the Church world again, hiding out in my little corner of the Kingdom, doing my own thing, but I've already done that in times past and I found that to be a lonely place.

God is teaching me some very important things right now. And what's strange is He is using my little sister to illustrate these truths. She's beautiful, strong, funny, smart and make-blood-shoot-out-of-my-eyes liberal. She and I approach religion very differently which, to be transparent, sometimes hurts my heart. But ... I couldn't love and respect a person more than I love and respect her. She's the real deal. I overlook what I consider to be her flaws and, thankfully, she does the same for me. I love my sister's Facebook posts. Nearly everyday I get to hear about the hilarious antics of my amazing nieces. I get to walk along with her, struggle with her, fight with her. Sometimes she sumbits make-blood-shoot-out-of-my-eyes liberal comments that I roll my eyes and shake my head at. Sometimes she does the same thing at mine. Sometimes, when I make a really far right-winged, blazing, holier than thou comment, I intentionally remove her name from the recipients list. I don't want blood shooting out of her eyes when she's already having a bad day. My point is I'm invested in loving my sister. She's my heartbeat. We disagree on very important issues, but those issues are still secondary to our love, appreciation and respect we have for each other. We are invested in loving each other despite our individual flaws.

HERE'S MY LESSON: I think SOME of my friends' political statements are stupid, insensitive and, quite frankly, abusive. I've been disappointed at some of the things I've seen and heard. I get a little angry when my desire to maintain a pure conscience toward God and men is downplayed and mocked. I've wanted to put a rear naked choke on some of those that tell me they're tired of Christians fighting and calling each other names over this election, yet turn around and fight and call people names over the election. I weary with brothers whom I would never openly attack thinking that any political post I make is about them. 85% of the time I haven't had a chance to read what they've said. Folks are crazy right now. For reals! You can post John 3:16 and someone will say something about voting for Trumplestiltskin or Hillbilly Clinton. LOL. Yowsers.

But I love them. I confident them. I respect them. The people I'm referring to are great men/women of God. They love the Lord. And if I think what they're saying is stupid, they probably think what I'm saying is stupid, too.

And what else should I expect?

My closest friends are strong, masculine, annointed, extremely flawed, alpha-male, female chauvinists. ---> LOL.They thunder when they speak. They speak and write passionately. I love their zeal even when I can't stand the subject matter that zeal is annihilating. My closest friends aren't "yes" men.

We all have character flaws. We all need Jesus. We need each other.

Samson was tied up by his own brothers and delivered to the Philistines. He broke free from the ropes that held him. He still didn't turn on his brothers; there were too many Philistines to kill. I've been freed from many of the ropes (traditions, attitudes, etc) that my Christian brothers and sisters have tied me up with in the past.

BUT I'VE GOT REAL ENEMIES TO FIGHT!