Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Divided Body, Darkened Culture"

Jesus is not insecure about who He is, but many within His body seem to be. He isn't worried about His people being "led astray", but many within His body seem to be. They are more interested in sniffing out “heretics”, charlatans, and those with whom they disagree, instead of reflecting the Light of His truth, love, grace, & power. He doesn't shame those who wrestle with Him or question Him with sincerity of heart in their quest to find and know His heart, but many within His body certainly try to. He isn't swayed by terminology, controversy, argument, semantics, doctrinal quibbles, or the like, but many within His body certainly are. He sees the heart of every matter, while many in His body seem content to pass judgment based on surface, temporal, and symptomatic grounds. The varying processes of time and revelation that His people embark on, in order to become conformed to His image, do not intimidate Him, but many within His body are self-professed “fruit inspectors”, and staunch defenders of preferential “truths”, holding others to their pious and self-imposed standards and timelines. He trusts His Spirit within each believer to "lead and guide into all truth", while many within His body are insistent on assisting in, or even filling the role of the Holy Spirit by manipulating, condemning, or coercing some sort of pseudo behavior modification through doctrinal and scriptural distortion or out-of-context twisting. He is not concerned about many of the differences within His body, which many in His body make such big deals about, even to the point of dividing over, or unfairly labeling one another as heretics, not having the "whole truth", or unbelievers. He is into the unity of His body, and unity of the spirit between His followers. There are a number of “straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel” issues that we emphasize and set in the place of litmus tests of fellowship and community, that actually matter very little to Him, and many remain stubbornly clueless to this reality. And yet, the body of Christ has become splintered, polarized, and overwhelmingly contentious as a result of those things that have little to no eternal significance. The sad thing is, that many within His body often minimize and even miss the things that He does value and consider of Kingdom significance and eternal worth. Just like the religion-defending pharisees of old, their offspring can be clearly identified in our current day culture. Religion always focuses on and puts preeminence on matters of appearance, image, doctrine, tradition, and law; Jesus places focus and preeminence on matters of the heart, a renewed mind, and a transformed life. The Pharisees were obsessed with the law, ancient traditions, and rituals. Modern day Pharisees are often obsessed with theology, appearance, and doctrinal conformity--much of which is based on interpretation and personal perspective instead of Spirit-revealed revelation. Both versions of the pharisaical expressions fixate on some substitutionary spirituality to give them a sense of self-righteousness, performance piety, and even connection to God. Both fail to understand the simplicity and power of the Gospel, the actual “plan” of salvation--which is indeed a free gift, not a progressive “recipe” of 3 ingredients, or something earned through merit systems of personal “right-ness”--,the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Grace and faith life, and the all sufficiency of Christ alone. They insist on adding to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, with performance, principle–following, and shame-based living. They ultimately substitute religion for relationship, and a form of godliness for His transforming power. Jesus said that the Spirit of truth would lead and guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit, and not a mastery of apologetics, theology, homiletics, or doctrinal “I-dotting and T-crossing”, will lead us and guide us into all Truth. The Holy Spirit corrects, aligns, and harmonizes the hearts & minds of the followers of Christ with the very Christ they are following. Many Christians and Christian leaders evidently don't really trust the Holy Spirit's leading in the lives of others, so they depend on "substitutionary" methods of “truth-guiding”. The fact is, the Holy Spirit does a wonderful job of leading people--including exposing error. There is no need for fear or shame-based manipulation, in order to prompt people into alignment with our perspective of truth, or our preferences for their behavior. The purpose of five-fold ministry should be to encourage people in their gifts, their growth in grace and love, and their intimacy with Christ under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, instead of “strong arming” them into conformity to a religious set of doctrines or personal perspectives and ideals. Let the Holy Spirit do His job. Any thing less than that produces a divided body, misplaced allegiance, an atmosphere of cultural cynicism, and an ever-worsening darkness in a world in need of a Savior reflected in His body, in earth, as in Heaven. (Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50, John 17:11, Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16)

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Another 'What The Hell!' Moment"

I try, I don’t try. I work, I don’t work. I listen, I ignore.
My life has become a checklist, a desperate formula to somehow find an open door.
Every effort to surrender, every attempt to rest.
Always seems to land me back in this mental mess.
I’ve analyzed til’ I’m paralyzed, I’m numb and at the end.
This isn’t a new destination, it’s a state in which I’ve often been.
I’m out of ideas how to get over, walk through, and overcome.
I’ve tried desperately to rest in, trust in, and depend on the power of the only One.
So why do I always end up in this desert, this cave, this ‘what the hell’!
When will I ever finally see the fruit of what I believe come to life in the story I tell?
I’ve only One that I can run to, only One to heal my soul.
The silence cannot continue, this long, dark night in an emotional black hole.
When will I find that place of restful repose
Where I confidently and securely function in what my heart knows.
That I’m loved by the One who is more than enough
To fill every place, where I can’t measure up.
Not a failure, vulnerability, or a flesh and blood flaw
Can keep me from becoming and being the man that He saw
When He placed me in Christ before the world breathed its first
To live life abundant in every facet of my existence here on earth.
I can experience Kingdom come in the right here, right now space and time.
Every promise, every blessing, every desire from His heart is now mine.
So in every “what the hell” moment, when my strength is all but gone.
I simply believe, fall into His grace, and trust He is working, and I’m never alone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"The Plodders"

Dramatic, major event-type stories and tales of tragedy to triumph, rags to riches, or from the outhouse to the penthouse, often garner the biggest stages, and those "heroes" who live these "grandiose" experiences or meteoric rise, receive the most accolades, and enjoy the greatest opportunities. They are sexy and sensational, and people are drawn to them. But the plodders--those who go day after day, year after year, and extended season after season, fighting intense battles out of the limelight, surviving and suffering away from the stage and the clamoring crowds and thrill seeking masses wanting to vicariously live through the glamour of those episodes--their stories often go unsung, unnoticed, and unappreciated. Process oriented stories are not "newsworthy". They don't sell books, or build a following. However the plodders are the ones who understand the journey of life, the meaning of character development, patience, perseverance, and trust. Ironically, the plodders give hope to us all--not just short-lived inspiration. They write the stories that relate to the journeys of so many people--even the ones who are busy chasing down the "events", and the movie-worthy plot lines, and those who "star" in them. The plodders face the maddening mundane and the daily dirty, and they often do so from a forgotten place of hidden obscurity while trying to find their purpose, live their dream, grow their faith, and serve their God without recognition or reward, often void of external validation. While it is proper to celebrate EVERY story of life, hope, and true success, we must not forget the plodders. Don't abandon them as "background" noise, or opening acts to a headliner. Don't relegate them to bylines or irrelevant, less valuable "extras" as you try to build YOUR own reputation & purpose by hobnobbing, associating with, or vicariously living your own dream by attempting to ride on the backs of celebrity figures and their Pulitzer prize-worthy stories. Chances are, the plodders have more to offer you in the way of example, of hope, and a relatable process that you can identify with in your own story.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Changing Chapters"

My family and I have lived in Nashville (Franklin) for almost 11 years. It has been an unexpected, bewildering process at times. We have experienced seasons of loneliness, isolation, and confusion as to why God brought us here in the first place. We have met some incredible people, and even re-connected with a few from years gone by, but have never really found that sense of community that God has given us the desire for. Circumstantially speaking, we have made some priceless memories, watched our kiddos grow and thrive, and enjoyed some unforgettable moments, and yet we have endured some of the most challenging times of our lives, relative to our careers, our passions, and our provisions. I have misunderstood the voice of God at times with regard to what "part" we were to play, our purpose, and our engagement in the grand scheme of His vision for us here. That has, on occasion, prompted me to make "well-intentioned" decisions that have in fact turned out to be misguided and a bit ill-timed. But through all of that, I've had such a peace in knowing that God led us here. I have never been in doubt about that! I have seen God's hand at work in our lives, and have watched Him order our steps, even when it looked like to me that those steps were only going around in endless circles without rhyme or reason, all leading us to yet another lonely waiting room, for us to sit in disappointment with our deferred hopes and unfulfilled dreams. But this wild & crazy ride has been absolutely transformative and revolutionary to me personally! My journey with God, the recovery of my identity in Christ, and the story He has been writing in me leave me overwhelmed with gratitude, joy, and an indescribable expectancy for the next! I am discovering that the power of experiencing your revealed purpose is worth the pain of enduring your concealed preparation. God's timing can be trusted! His faithfulness can be rested in! I've often lamented that I wish I would have begun this last 10 year stretch of my journey in my 20’s instead of my 40’s, to which God replied (or at least I "imagined" that He replied) "You are less of an idiot now than you were in your 20's, and besides, age is never a problem or a hindering factor with me. Just ask Abraham & Sarah. You’re just getting started. Besides, I've still kept you looking and feeling like you are in your 20's, so there's that." Now see, doesn’t that sound just like the voice of God?
And thankfully, there is the now! And there is God's perfect timing again! 10.5 years later, the purpose is beginning to dawn. And as far as community, I believe THAT will unfold. There are certain aspects of living here in Franklin that feel a little "transit", even after 10 years, namely, still living in an apartment, and the community thing. But I feel strongly that our purpose has birthed, and has been developed from here. His Kingdom legacy in our lives is burgeoning from here! These past 10.5 years have been a longer-than-I-had-hoped period of preparation and isolated discovery. God has mercifully been reconnecting me to my identity, and His heart for my family and me. I have never been more excited about the revealing of this next chapter. Every part of our story has been leading up to THIS CHAPTER! Man, am I ready to close the one I’ve been reading over and over for 10 years, and start reading the new one! Thanks for listening!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"The End?"

 This might seem like a bit of a “dark” note, but read all the way to the end. Although it is a raw, transparent expression, deep beneath the tumultuous surface of the sea of this weary soul, there is a calm where the reality of Christ in me holds me in an unrelenting grip of perfect love & faithfulness. There is truly an amazing Light at the end of this tunnel. We have the ultimate Hope! And He is never absent from where we may be, even when we feel that there isn’t much of “US” left to give. Be encouraged! “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalms 3:3 ESV

      How do you know if you’re arriving at the end of yourself? Are there indicators in your emotions? Or do you simply reach a place where you are too emotionally and mentally exhausted to offer up any emotional response or basic coherent mental “functionality”? Do you feel as if your self worth itself is up for debate? Do you find yourself without any natural energy, even for elementary and mundane tasks? Do you begin to question if your family would actually be better off without you? Do you entertain the notion that, although your process and journey have taken a long time, and you know that surely your “spirit” must have grown significantly, you still feel as though you are no further along now than you were at the start of the whole process, and you are STILL hijacked by the same issues you have battled from the beginning? Is there a relentless fear, shame, and insecurity that seems to be growing stronger in its attacks on your heart and mind? Do you feel forgotten or rejected by pretty much everyone? Do you find yourself starting to believe that you were meant for nothing more than to have your ass busted over & over in the furnace of preparation and constant deferred hope, but never meant to finally experience “breakthroughs” in this life? Do you feel powerless to live from the place where God has been building you, and instead, you continually fall into the pattern of living according to your ever-present circumstances, failures and missed opportunities, cycles of maddening “stop, start, repeat”, and perpetual self-loathing? Do you find yourself apologizing to seemingly everyone for everything about yourself? Do you feel like a “leper”, avoided by everyone, the one who always reaches, but no one seems to reach back? Do the liabilities of your personality and nature overwhelm you, and though you fight like hell to settle in, rest, and live from the place of your true identity, you just can’t seem to break the “one step forward, two steps back” pattern of living? Do you have to continually fight the urge to give in to the “screw it all” mindset? Do you find yourself bargaining with God, begging Him to give some sustained relief, and trying to influence Him with some sort of personal life journey “resume”?  If any of these “symptoms” are indicative of reaching the end of yourself, then thankfully my long, dark season (at least that’s the way it has “seemed” to my natural man) has not been wasted. In fact, it has been a most joyous process. So, along with me, take heart & rejoice, for in this case, “The End Is Near” is an exciting proposition, instead of some doomsday proclamation. For it’s at the end of yourself where you find the beginning of your true identity. That identity that you were created for, to enjoy and thrive, and live In Him, not in the “best version” of your old self, but a brand new identity. Life lived from THAT reference point is truly abundant, and it’s worth coming to the end.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"The Great Needless Lack"

Much religion-including some of Christianity-has been complicit in a great lie of the enemy. It has tried to “normalize” or justify the experiences of sickness, tragedy, lack, curses, and other darkness in the lives of Christ followers. These are the fruit of living according to the brokenness of and the way of the world. Christ paid the price for the curse of sin, and in exchange He gave us His Life, health, prosperity, and blessing. Sadly though, there is an epidemic of spiritual “starvation” in the lives of many Christians. Why is it easier to empathize with tragedy and sorrow than it is to believe that something better is ours as Christ followers? And that "something better" is NOT only reserved for the hereafter, but for right now--heaven on earth. I guess people feel more "spiritual" when they "glorify" tragedy, or suffering, and reason it away as "God's sovereignty", or the often quoted, yet contextually distorted passage--”it rains on the just and the unjust”, instead of seeking out, resting in, and standing on the promises of God for His people RIGHT NOW. His Kingdom come, IN EARTH, as IN HEAVEN! So many Christ followers exhibit the truth of scripture stated in Hosea, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge". We may live in the world, but we as Christ followers are not "of it", and not subject to the spirit of it, or the curses that come through it. The Cross, and the blood of Jesus has saved us and freed us.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”—1 Corinthians 2:12 (ESV)

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”—Romans 8:12-25 (ESV)

“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?"—Galatians 4:1-9 (ESV)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Nothing Left"

Most folks on my social media lists probably don't take the time to read my "lengthier" posts, and I debated on whether or not to share something so raw and present in my life. Probably because I see some people who post EVERYTHING on Facebook without wisdom, discernment, or self-respect, and I certainly won't go down that path. Although a few close friends and family do, most do not know the "up close & personal" about the journey I've been on for a long time, and the prolonged challenges I've faced--some of them seemingly stuck on "repeat". But maybe someone in a "bewildering", never-seems-to-end season of life can relate to the delay and hurt of hopes deferred, setback, rejection, and frustration, and gain encouragement from my process. And if a burned out, wearied soul or two, exhausted from waiting and feeling forgotten can somehow find a lifeline of hope, help, validation, and a renewed trust in God’s timing, His love, and His promises, then I'll gladly take the risk of posting from a vulnerable state, here in the waiting room of the labor & delivery suite where my faith is exhausted, but His Faith is inexhaustible, as I hold on to His faithfulness, reflect on His words, remember & repeat His promises, and try to somehow rest in His unrelenting grip of Grace. Blessings, DaRon

"Nothing Left"

Every tear has fallen.
Every fist has been shaken and slammed in frustration.
Every self-analysis has been exhausted.
Every question has been asked.
Every self-loathing regret has been leveled.
Every “What did I do or NOT do?” has been tortuously replayed in my memory.
Every misplaced blame has been identified.
Every “answer” has been repeated and held onto, even without evidence seen.
Every confession has been made.
Every forgiveness has been asked for and given, to me and from me to others.
Every responsibility for every choice and consequence has been accepted.
Every declaration of faith has been passionately stated.
Every possible cause or effect has been subjected to analysis to the point of mental fatigue and emotional flat line.
Every admission of guilt behind these cyclical circumstances has been confessed.
Every accusation toward God has been hurled.
Every sincere apology has been echoed from my heart.
Every anger-spewing rant, followed by salty tears of resignation and a “new” temporary emotional “jump start” has been displayed to death from me in a repetitious, mind-numbingly NEVERENDING, stuck-on-repeat cyclical song of despair.
Every deferred hope has been a stab to my heart and a rug pulled out from under my trust.
Every “just keep patiently waiting” has beaten the life out of every dream I’ve been hanging onto for years.
Every bit of strength is gone.
Every back up plan has been abandoned to YOUR plan alone.
And every bit of me has been emptied out at your feet.
I’ve got nothing left.
Nothing…………only trust in YOU.
And though it doesn’t “feel” like it, THAT is the strongest, most sure foundation I could ever stand on. Of course, at this point, I don’t feel like I’m standing, but rather, YOU are faithfully holding me up!