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Redshirts

January 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Star Trek Redshirts

I’ve watched Star Trek my whole life. It’s the first show I remember ever watching, and I just watched one of the Star Trek movies last night – Khan! Khan!!! KHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Except for J.J. Abrams Trek reboot, Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek movie ever, hands down.

One of the best parts of the show is the redshirts. For the Trek uninitiated, redshirts are the security guys on a starship. It’s odd how highly trained and exceptional Kirk’s crew is, considering how many security guys he’s lost over the years.

What happens is, the Enterprise warps into action, and when the doomed planet is in view, Kirk says, “Standard orbit, Mr Sulu.” Then, Kirk, Bones, Spock, a random other crew member and at least one guy in a red shirt beam down to the planet. Then, approximately 2.8 seconds later, some random yeti with a horn, or a giant angry rock pounces on the person with the red shirt. Bones, the doctor (blue shirt!) runs over and waves a spinny salt shaker over his face and says, “He’s dead Jim!”

Week after week, something like this happening, you’d think they would just change the color of the guy’s shirt, right?

It seems like common sense, when applied after the fact to a 1960′s tv show, but how many of us tend to live our lives this same way?

We have an experience, it is bad, and even though it was bad, we repeat it. Are we hoping to end up with a different result at some point? That is the definition of insanity.

The bible says it another way – and this is not pretty – “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

Would you agree that it is foolish to keep doing things the same way, when the end result is disaster, every single time?

Have you ever said, “Oy, I will never drink that much ever again!” That was me, every Friday and/or Saturday night my first two years of college. I would come dragging back to the dorm, somewhere between 1 and 6 am, stagger up to my room, sleep the sleep of the dead, then hate myself for it later. But I did it over and over again.

There’s a cure for whatever it is that ails you. It’s not hair of the dog, either. It’s Jesus! For those of us who have wrestled with our own foolishness, who have tried again and again to change, on our own, but keep falling into the same ditch over and over again – quit beaming yourself into whatever it is and try something completely different.

King David, from the Old Testament, was a man after God’s own heart. But he still had sin in his life! In other words, he was just like you and me, but he knew it – he knew he was sinful, and he knew what to do to get past it. This is from Psalm 51 – “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”

Repentance – that’s what David was doing. And that’s what you and I need to do, when we’re trapped in our sin, when it seems like it will never end, when we have tried everything we know to do and it’s just not enough.

Repentance is simply changing your mind – by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can’t do it, but God can. You have to give up what you think is the right thing, the fun thing, the thing that everyone else is doing, and allow the Spirit to change you.

So – throw the red shirts in the trash – you’re not doomed, or cursed or condemned. You just need a relationship with Jesus! You can have it right now – ask Jesus to be your savior, put your trust in him, confess to him what he already knows, that you’re sinful and can’t save yourself, and ask him to fill you with his Spirit. Then – enjoy your new life in him! Tell everyone what he’s done for you, turn your back on your old life – because you’re brand new and the old things have no power over you anymore!

I’ve moved past my old, foolish ways. I’m not perfect – but when I’m in a bad place like David was, I take it to God. You can do that, too – right now! He’s listening, he’s ready to act. It’s up to you what happens next – trust him!

Broken

July 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

broken

We are broken. Both as individuals and as a species. We see the result of our brokenness played out on the evening news, by the side of the road, in alleys. We see it in our churches and in our homes as well. There is brokenness everywhere we look.

Part of being broken is denial. We know there’s something wrong, we might even know exactly what it is, but we don’t know how to be unbroken, and it seems hard anyway. It’s easier to stay the way we are. Maybe we even think we are happy, and why change it? Why fix what ain’t (too) broken?

We are deluded by how broken we actually are, and by the way, we will never know just how bad it is until the brokenness is repaired. We can’t see that far or that high. But when we’re away from the things that are holding us in bondage, when we actually get a taste of freedom, it’s easy to look back and see just how bad it really was.

Myself, the journey began about two years ago. I was miserable but I hid it pretty well. My wife knew, I’m sure my kids knew, and if you looked at me long and hard and deep you could have seen it. But I really did put on the happy church face for everyone. I couldn’t let anyone know just how dead I was inside, how alone.

When I saw it though, when it was pointed out to me – well, my first reaction was shame, then acceptance, then repentance, then healing. And probably some steps I’m not even thinking about right now in between all those. It took time, it took self examination, it took prayer and counseling. But more than anything it took getting to know God.

What was actually wrong with me? What is wrong with us? With people? I think our hearts are broken.

There was a time and a place when all of creation was in perfect fellowship with God. People – people like you and me – walked with God himself, talked to him just like we talk to the person in the cubicle next to us at work. Maybe with less cursing though. Adam and Eve walked with God and gave names to all of creation. They walked in the garden together, in perfect fellowship.

And then, when faced with a choice, they chose to distrust the source of all that they were. They were tempted, which in itself is not a bad thing, but instead of taking it to God, instead of saying, “You know what that crazy snake said?” they took the fruit from the wrong tree, they ate it – they made it a part of themselves – and then they hid from God.

What’s so bad about knowledge? Isn’t it a good thing to know good and evil? If you know one from the other, you should be able to make the right choice – do good and you’re a good person, do bad and, well, you’re bad. Right?

Not so fast. The choice was between knowledge and life, not between good and evil. There were two trees in question, not three. The Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Two trees. Adam and Eve chose knowledge over life.

Their choice has doomed us to brokenness ever since.

Oh, we try. We try so hard to do the right thing, to be good people. We know right from wrong, and we struggle to do the right thing. We give to the poor, go on mission trips, work for churches. There’s always going to be someone in need, some soup kitchen where you can serve to try and make your guilt take a back seat for a day, but when the day is done, when you’re alone in the dark, it always comes creeping back in and you know this one thing – you can’t save yourself. No matter how much good you do, no matter how much you give, you will always be broken.

There is an easy answer to your brokenness, if you’re interested. Choose life!

You may want to ask, just like I did, “But can it really be that easy?” Yes. Yes it can.

The problem with me is how strong I am, how willful. Bob Hamp says in his book Think Differently, Live Differently that “The stronger the person, the more they struggle, and the quicker they become entrenched.”

I had a great job, good friends, beautiful wife, beautiful kids – they all supported me, loved me, thought the world of me, and still I was stuck. I was miserable, and even though I was a Christian man seeking to know God, I was lost. The more I tried to do the right thing, the worse I got – further from God, more depressed, more stuck.

I was trying to know God on my terms. He can’t just be known! He reveals himself to those who seek him! I was seeking – I was reading some pretty deep stuff by some great Christian writers, and the more I read the more lost I felt. I was trying to get to God through knowledge and through doing good. Which is the same path everyone is on, until they aren’t.

Why did Jesus come to the earth? Why leave his glory in heaven and come here? What is sin? What is it that keeps us from knowing God the right way? Well, Jesus came to set us free – free from being who we are. And sin is being disconnected from God. The result of sin, of being disconnected from God is death, even while we are still physically alive. That’s why we act and feel the way we do. Because we are not connected to the source of life.

We all start out broken, many people stay that way. Some people, however, find a source beyond themselves and are renewed – we become who we were intended to be. Not by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

So the question is, how do we find this renewal? How are we connected again to our source of life? How can we not be broken anymore?

Remember when Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman? Read John 4 – Jesus told her, “If you knew who I was you would ask and I would give you living water.”

Jesus is the living water! He was sent by the Father to restore us – he paid the price for all people and what we need to do is repent! We don’t need to make up our minds, we don’t need to think different kinds of thoughts or do different kinds of actions. Our actions won’t save us, save one – repent! Be transformed by the renewing of you mind! Matthew 4 says, “From then on, Jesus began to preach ‘Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!’”

Yes this is on my mind a lot lately – because it’s happening to me! The more I seek Him, the clearer it all becomes. I was lost and broken and like everyone else I was trying to do the right thing, say the right thing, think the right thing, act the right way. I can’t! I failed constantly and couldn’t understand why! Because I was depending on me to change me and I couldn’t change me and I thought God hated me and I was a failure. I was right in one thing – I can’t change me. That level of change comes from outside ourselves and like a new broom, it sweeps clean.

Repentance is not trading one way of doing things for another. That’s the same mistake we always make. Repentance is not changing bad behavior for good – repentance is death. Putting those thoughts and actions to death and having a completely new way of thinking implanted into you. Only then can you be who you were meant to be, who you were born to be, who God designed you to be.

Crazy right? It’s either that or stay broken. I couldn’t do it that way anymore. I’m strong and willful, but even the strongest, most stubborn people get tired and come to the end of what they can do.

Where are you? At the end? Still hanging on? Barely making it? Jesus came to make you new, to give you a new beginning, to give you life. To read this and know it and to go on the way you always have is crazier than following Jesus and allowing Him to heal you. He will do it right now. Ask and you shall receive!