Category Archives: Royalty

Musings from a Madman: The Reality of Relationship (Part 13)

The Secret Place where God touches you.

Once inside this secret place, you must relax. You are now in God’s presence. This is the place where his heart and your heart were designed to bond. Here you can forget about your trials and troubles for a few minutes and experience the peace and the presence of the One who loves you unconditionally. Here is the place where you don’t have to perform, say the right words, or worry about doing something wrong.

This is the habitation of God, and you have entered the presence of the One who loves to sing songs over you as you draw near. These songs contain the words your heart hungers to hear—the songs that cause your spirit to soar on the wings of eagles. Here in this place you are completely safe from rejection. God will not reject you. To do so, he would have to reject his son Jesus Christ. And that is something God cannot do because he would have to reject himself and that is impossible.

Here you will find your true worth—the value God’s accessment. You will hear his voice. Perhaps it will come in a soft whisper or a gentle word or phrase. One thing is for certain, if you listen closely you will begin to understand who you truly are in Christ. You will grasp the reality of the person God sees when he looks at you, not the despicable creature the enemy wants you to believe is the real you.

Perhaps it has dawned on you that the voices of condemnation, shame, and fear have all gone silent. Their slurs and slanders have no voice here. Truth is the only language spoken at this address. The only shortcomings here are the deceptions you have believed about yourself and smuggled into this tranquil spot. And, if you become a regular visitor to the place, those will soon disappear as the light of truth illuminates them one by one. Then you will see each one for what it really is—a lie. Here in this place, God’s word defines truth. What he says is!

Lay aside what everyone else says about you and listen closely to the words God is speaking. Listen! Learn! And then live out of the identity ascribed to you by God. He cannot lie! You are a son—a daughter—of the King. You are not worthless, unworthy, wicked, or stupid. You are not a failure or a disappointment either. You are the beloved of God!

Listen to God’s voice. Concentrate on every consonant, vowel, and syllable. Let the melody of those words sink like medicine into your wounded soul. Meditate on their full meaning. That healing word you have longed for so long is here—right now!

Stop worrying about what to do next. Just relax and be who God says you already are.

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 8)

God was purposefully intent on Abram grasping all the nuances of the dream. It was multi-dimensional, one of the chief characteristics of a God-sized dream. These dreams always mirror their Creator. God’s intent can be seen in the multiple visits and visions Abram received. God is the original author of the axiom, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” Therefore he repeated his promise over and over (you can check them out in Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18), to make sure the smallest detail was crystal clear.

God was giving him a land, descendants, and a blessing. Abram would be a physical extension of God to the world and the world would come to know God through the testimony of Abram. This is pretty heady stuff for a wondering Bedouin living in a goat-hair tent and like most of us, he could not grasp it. In fact, he became fixated on one teeny-tiny detail in the great scheme of things. Abram could not grasp the big picture. He could not see the forest for all the trees. And that itsy-bitsy detail flooded his mind and took control of the next few years.

Abram was an old man and his wife Sarai was an old woman. Their main problem: they had no children. No son to carry on the family name. His thinking was: if I have not son, how can I have descendants? Abram, like most of us, was fixated on the natural and not free to dream supernaturally. God said he would have descendants—uncountable like the stars in heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore. Abram became obsessed. He and Sarai were not getting any younger.

Here is the next principle we all need to internalize in our learning curve to dream with God: God-sized dreams are so big, if we are not careful, we will fixate on a detail rather than the fulfillment. Most of us dream dreams that are one-dimensional. We often seek to bring those dreams to fruition and fulfillment one step at a time. God simply does not work that way. Abram thought he needed a son (at the point any son would do) to fulfill God’s promises. So, he nonchalantly mentions the adoption of Eliezer of Damascus, his chief servant, as a means of helping God out with the details. God is not interested. In fact, God then focuses the promise and gives him another clue where this son of promise would come from—“from your own body” (Gen. 15:4). Abram would father a son who would carry his blood.

Later, with Sarai’s blessing Abram would indeed father a son with an Egyptian handmaiden named Hagar. This time he did not consult God and the results of that decision created a conflict that is still being felt today and will eventually usher in the events of Armageddon. Thousands of years of conflict and the birth of a religion whose goal is ultimately to possess Abram’s Promised Land and destroy his descendants, and God’s blessing.

All this is because his vision was too small to see the diversity and the size of God’s dream.  He became fixated on a detail of the promise rather than the ultimate fulfillment of the promise. He wrongly thought he was responsible for this trivial detail he thought was so vital. He majored on the minor rather than grasping for the whole.

The devil is not in the details as the old saying goes. No, God is in the details. Every detail is critical and he will fulfill each one—his good name depends on it. So…you can bet he will come through—every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted. God will take care of the details if we will put our focus on him. Our job is to be faithful. God’s job is to fulfill (fill in every detail until the promised dream is full). Our responsibility is to trust and his job is to remain trustworthy, which after all is an attribute of his deity. He is God and we are not!

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 7)

Let’s face it, God’s dreams are too big for us to understand much less bring into existence by ourselves. Yes for us it is impossible, but for God—nothing is impossible. For those dreams to become a reality in our lives, we must partner with God. If we have faith enough to conceive it, God can birth it into existence.

Abram obeyed God and went to Canaan. Yet, he could not comprehend the sheer size of what God wanted to do in, with, and through him. There were obstacles all along the way but he made the journey one step at a time—day-by-day. Once in Canaan, a famine drove his family into Egypt in search of food. There Abram allowed the Pharaoh to take Sarah into his harem, intending to make her his wife. He did so because Abram said she was his sister. Self-preservation rather than faith drove Abram to do this. God intervened.

Once back in Canaan, Abram and Lot’s flocks multiplied to the point that the land could not sustain both of them, so they were forced to separate. Lot went to lush plain where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located. Things looked greener to Lot in that direction, but the grass is always greener over the septic tank. Not long after arriving, Lot was taken captive by invading armies and Abram was forced to track them down and rescue his nephew. God intervened.

Abram, like each of us, was learning to trust God moment-by-moment through the unknown, the unforeseen, and the ordinary.  Circumstances and situations come and go to teach us to walk in faith. They are designed to teach us to trust God and the lessons did not go unheeded by Abram. The dream was far bigger than Abram could comprehend in his mind. He did all kinds of things—both good and bad trying to apprehend it. Yet the key was learning to trust God. Faith is the essential element for seeing God-sized dreams come true. Remember, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Here’s the second principle we must all learn in this process: God-sized dreams are far bigger than our finite minds can comprehend so they must be apprehended by faith alone.  Our responsibility is to trust—to believe—to act in faith and leave the impossibilities of the God-sized dream to God. The fulfillment of the dream was God’s responsibility—for nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Over and over, God assured Abram he would fulfill everything he had promised. On different occasions God would appear to Abram and renew his promise of descendants whose numbers would compare with the sum of the stars in the skies or the sand on the seashore. God’s dream was infinitely larger than Abram finite brain could comprehend. God was not interested in whether or not Abram could get his mind around it. No, God was interested in enlarging the capacity of Abram’s faith—stretching it until it was God-sized. Would he—could he—really believe God could do what he said he would do? Only the test of time spent walking with God would transport Abram to this level of faith.

And that my friend is the exact same lesson God is teaching us as we attempt to step out in faith to apprehend the God-sized dream he has tailored for each of us. Don’t try to get your mind around it, use your faith instead. You mind is not as pliable as your faith. Your faith has an amazing elasticity about it that you won’t believe until you strecth it by exercising it.

Cultivating a Culture of Honor (Part 8)

Jesus bestowed honor through His personal interaction with people. He ministered and moved among the people, meeting the emotional and spiritual needs, as well as their physical needs. For Jesus, it was never “either or,” but always “both and.” His modus operandi was comprehensive—holistic—complete. He saw the beauty hidden within every person—the diamond in the rough—and responded appropriately.

The simple techniques of honor Jesus used are often overlooked, lost in the miracles themselves. Indeed the miracles are supernatural, filling us with wonder and excitement. They excite us, but by themselves they compose only a part of the whole story. We must not become so enamored with the miraculous that we make mundane or even unimportant the simple acts of honor that the Lord sowed into souls as He cultivated a culture of honor among the common people of His day.

Honor will not allow us to avoid any person—no matter how atrocious their situation, horrendous their condition, or incomprehensible their actions. Honor is given not necessarily because it is deserved but because it always elevates its recipient. That elevation is just another word for an unassuming act of dignity. Jesus was a master at the restoration of lost, stolen, or damaged dignity, and He achieved it through effortless acts that we can all imitate. There are many, but let me share three examples over the next couple of blogs.

The unbalanced religious practices of the first century rendered those who suffered from disease, despair, demonization, or death untouchable. The spiritually elite, whose faith was worn like an expensive Armani suit for all to see, refused to recognize, much less minister to those who were hurting all around them. Their pious orthodoxy resulted in nothing more than a blind narcissistic love of self which became the breeding ground for the egocentric brand of false faith we see masquerading as “Christian” today.

In Jesus day, leprosy stripped away every shred of a person’s dignity and honor as its rot pared the flesh away from its victim. These men and women were the unclean—the untouchables of society—forced to live apart both socially and religiously. Theirs was a helpless situation without hope.

When confronted by a man whose body was consumed by this awful disease Jesus reached out and touched him (Matt. 8:2). When the Lord’s finger tips rested on the ravaged flesh of that man’s body, honor was given and a lost dignity was restored. Deep in his soul hope sprang up. Yes, Jesus completed the act by healing his body, but the initial healing began with this simple yet revolutionary conduct. Jesus touched the untouchable and invited them (not just the leper, but the prostitute, the terminally ill, the demonized, and the much hated tax collectors) to touch Him. He honored them with something that was absent in their lives and withheld by their society—relationship.

Physical touch is a powerful sign of honor and a necessity for real relationship. There are countless individuals along your path today that hunger for a reassuring handshake, a gentle hug, or a pat on the back. They are starving for human contact rather than the hateful contempt they have become accustomed to. Study the miracles of Jesus—look at how often He touched the untouchable restoring what sin, or sickness, or the self-righteous had stolen. He gave honor through His touch.

Physical touch appropriately done at the right moment can give a desperate person hope, courage, strength, or whatever it is they need. Yes…we can do miracles, but not from long distance. To cultivate a culture of honor, we must be willing to touch our culture.

Cultivating a Culture of Honor (Part 1)

Honor is an endangered species—almost extinct in the American culture—seemingly destined to join the ranks of the dodo bird and the tyrannosaurus rex. Honor was once a treasured attribute to be freely given or gained. Honor was a sign of respect—an esteem offered in reverence—a valuation of dignity and deference to another. Today, the once chivalrous ideals immortalized by the knights of King Arthur’s Roundtable have been replaced by a selfish egocentric-minded horde of Conan the barbarians.

Dishonor has ascended and seated itself on the throne and authentic honor is quickly becoming its court jester. Our government is awash in scandal and partisan politics where the most effective tool of destruction is dishonor. The news reporting agencies, once reported by objective journalist, have now become purveyors of innuendo, half-truths, and total miss-truths intent on destroying through dishonor any movement, organization, or person who disagrees with their particular flavor of  belief. Pop culture entertainment reeks with dishonor. Even our children’s video games are filled with the violence of dishonor. It is a pandemic that has been loosed on our society that if not challenged and changed will result in the beauty of God’s highest creation becoming just another ravenous carnivore roaming the jungle where only the strongest survive.

 It was never meant to be this way—this was never God’s plan or purpose. What we are witnessing is the rapid evolution of evil and the sad unconcern of the church. The darkness is getting darker while the light seems to be fleeing to the hinterlands of some non-existent place. The fault for this dilemma rests not on the world around us, but squarely on the back of the church. Let me show you what I mean.

The word “culture” is derived from the agricultural term “cultivate.” By cultivating, a person prepares the ground for planting and sows the seeds. A good definition of culture is the result of what we have planted intellectually, spiritually, politically, economically, and physically. The biblical principle of sowing and reaping is clearly evident if you choose to look around.

We have not cultivated honor in our own families and churches, and therefore, dishonor has filled the vacuum. Dishonor is rampant within the church. Rather than value people, we tend to use them. You might not like that but think about it—have you been valued for what you can do—a task, a job, or a service—rather than for who God created you to be? If so, you have been dishonored. Have you ever been made to feel guilty because you chose not to do something some one else felt you would be great at? You were dishonored. Have you ever been used or abused by someone in spiritual authority? You were dishonored. Have you ever looked down your nose at someone or felt superior or more spiritual? You committed dishonor. We have all experienced it and are all guilty of it.

Things must change. We must be the ones who cultivate a new kind of culture—a culture of honor. If we do nothing and expect change to come—we have fulfilled the definition of idiocy. If this culture of honor thing intrigues you, join me over the next few weeks as I lay out a radical but biblical plan on how we can change culture one person at a time through honor. It is simple but profound!

Digging for Buried Treasure

Antiques Road Show ruined me forever. The first time I watched it convinced me that someday somewhere if I looked hard enough I could find valuable treasure buried in the trash. I dream about that rare painting covered with dust stored in an attic, a yard sale, or an out-of-the-way thrift store that’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. I have visions of finding a hand woven Native American Sioux blanket worth several hundred thousand dollars folded neatly under a pile of worthless papers in a trunk or old dresser left on the curb destined for the garbage dump. I know…I know…I’m a dreamer, but you never know.

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure or so they say. I’m a treasure hunter and treasure is definitely in the eye of the beholder. A few days ago, Cathy and I left on another treasure hunt called The World’s Longest Yard Sale. Imagine if you can a yard sale stretching 675 miles with 5,000 vendors scattered from Nocaloola Falls in Gadsden, Alabama all the way to Hudson, Michigan, with their trash and treasures displayed under tents on every imaginable kind of make-shift table in pine thickets, yards, fields, old buildings, and church parking lots. Now I know for some of you just thinking about this conjures up visions of what hell will be like, but really it’s not.

It’s Southern Americana at its finest—men and women, even kids, who know the value of the treasures their selling literally down to the penny. Plus—there’s a story with every piece even if they have to make one up. It’s the fine art of deal making carried to the extreme with badgering, bartering, and begging all mixed together.

The Alabama section is a leisurely drive along the Lookout Mountain Parkway through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet—like Dogtown, Fort Payne, Mentone, and Desoto State Park. Along with the natural beauty are the colorful characters you may meet along the way. One year Elvis was carving those little cedar signs with your name etched in them. Every so often, he would stop, put down his tools, and pick up a microphone connected to a slightly weathered karaoke sound system with cracked speakers and break out in one of his greatest hits. Yes—you heard right—a slightly overweight Elvis sighting in the East Alabama Mountains wearing faded Liberty overhauls without a single button fastened or even a tee shirt. Or the Tupperware lady who travels from place to place on an old yellow school bus loaded with at least one piece of every Tupperware bowl, container, or lid ever manufactured in the United States. If she doesn’t have it, she can get it—just leave your name and number. And there are hundreds more—all unique with a tale to tell or an item to sale.

Our treasure hunt unearthed no fabulous prize worth hundreds of dollars, but it did yield a few good finds—boat buoys, doll house furniture, creamy vanilla ice cream, and one dollar hotdogs with all the topping you can pile on a bun. The enjoyment comes in the looking and I’m still convinced if I look long enough I will find that mythical treasure I’m hunting.           

By the way, Jesus is a treasure hunter as well. Even as we speak, He is busy sifting through the trash and the garbage of this world looking for men, women, boys, and girls. Each one, no matter their station, location, or status in life is priceless to Him. On the cross, the redemption price of His life established the market value of our lives. Ever wondered what you’re worth? The price tag reads “Jesus.” That’s what God was willing to pay for you. Has the Ultimate Treasure Hunter found you?

Squirrel Fever and Faith

Urgency has a way of turning into an emergency unless one is very careful. From time to time we all become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent no matter how hard we prepare of how meticulous we are in our maintenance. This almost happened a few weeks ago when Cathy opened the water hydrant at the gazebo where our well pump is located. We only use it for washing the cars, but when you need it you need it—and with soap drying rock hard by the second she needed it. The only problem was nothing came out—not one drop.

I checked the electrical breaker and it was on. I cut the power and sanded the points thinking they might have been stuck due to a build up of moisture—still nothing. The green light was glowing on the safety switch but no water was coming out. I was quickly coming to the end of my well pump expertise. That’s when I noticed something unusual. The electrical wire running from the pump to the pressure switch appeared melted or at least that’s what I thought from my horizontal position peering in through the lattice work.

What I thought would be a simple job was now turning into a chore. The only way to get at the wire was to remove some of the gazebo flooring located just above the wire. I backed the screws out of the flooring, peered down into the hole, and found the problem. The wiring had not melted, it had been eaten. Eaten—yes, you heard me. I could not believe my eyes. In fact, I rubbed them several times and pinched myself hoping this was all a bad dream. It wasn’t.

The 220 volt electrical wire once covered in red, black, and yellow insulation was no longer covered—it had been meticulously gnawed off. That’s right—gnawed—bitten off bite after bite. What I saw was certain death by electrocution awaiting the unlucky soul who unwittingly put his hand in the wrong place. I immediately turned the power off and got a closer look. It seems a ravenous squirrel or vicious tribe of ravenous squirrels had attacked, devoured, and decimated the electrical system my well pump was dependant on for power. I believe it was a conspiracy especially contrived to drive me crazy since these hairy long-tailed deviants had to crawl over some of the most succulent acorns available this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains to get a mouthful of plastic insulation. After a few moments of screaming incoherent phrases and curses (their meaning known only to me, God, and a few mocking birds who stopped by to make fun of the human standing on his head screaming), I began looking with anticipation for the electrocuted carcass of the hairy little culprit who had munched and crunched himself hopefully to an eternity in squirrel hell. Incredibly, I did not find him.

To make a long story short, I was forced to buy new wire, install it, case it in conduit, and make the lattice work along the bottom of my gazebo rodent proof with the help of my wife, a stapler, and a roll of hardware wire. I’m probably leaving out the most exciting part of the story, but some things are better left to the imagination and certainly unwritten.

At the end of the day, power was restored and water again flowed freely from one hundred feet below the surface of the ground I call home. And—I now have a deep seething hatred for squirrel’s which I consider to be nothing more than rats with long furry tales. I no longer find any joy watching them scurry across my yard or traverse the limbs of my trees like acrobats in Circus Solé. Instead I find myself praying for hordes of hawks to blacken the sky in a squirrel feeding frenzy or frantically looking for my shotgun with an intense desire to help as many of my furry friends on an all expense paid permanent vacation to a luxury accommodation smack dab in the center of a cruise ship captained by Satan which will ultimately dock in fiery Gehenna.

I know—I know—you need to let it go Nelson and I have (somewhat), but you must understand that little detour into the abyss of squirrel hell took a day and a half of time I did not have the luxury of giving up. With the stress it created added in, it took another week off my otherwise ever shortening life span. I’m trying to let it go. Yes, life is unexpected. You never know what might happen next and the most unexpected usually does—that’s just life. You can adequately prepare, but you cannot always anticipate what will come next. Most of the things we encounter are out of our control anyway—whether it’s a doctor’s visit, a drive to the store, or the wiring on a well pump. You do the best you can and leave everything else in the hands of God. Now some may think that’s fatalistic—I think it’s biblical. In fact, I think that’s what faith is all about—trusting God for everything. You may think I have a bad case of squirrel fever, but really I’m just learning a new lesson in faith.