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A little something extra for your spiritual walk

I Struggle Too

I Struggle TooIf I were to be completely honest with you, I would say that this blog post is one of the hardest I have felt led to write. The reason is not because the topic is a difficult one to articulate or the fact that it is a particularly controversial stance on a “hot button” issue, but because of my heart attitude behind it.

As I get closer to Jesus, I have learned that God honors thoughtful response over angry outbursts. He values the offering of hope over a self-righteous decree of condemnation from my own personal soapbox. So, I want to write today out of love, grace, mercy, but firm resolve and I pray that God will be in my words. I want to talk about the concept of racism.

THE PROBLEM

I sat in a big leather chair in front of a woman who had cried so much that I was afraid she would become dehydrated. He husband had cheated on her. The adultery was getting to be too common in their marriage, and after multiple transgressions, he once again told her it “would never happen again”. This woman was broken, angry, and had practically given up on long term joy in her life. My heart filled with my own brand of anger when she told me the lies that were told and the sins that were committed. The man that she was married to made her feel inferior. He made her believe things about herself that were not true. He made her think this was all her fault. On top of this, over the period of several years, he had made sure that she was removed from opportunities, relationships, more education and much of the outside world as a method of domination and control. She prayed that God would help her and He did. She divorced him and years later, she married the man of her dreams. She also forgave her ex-husband.

The problem is, I really want to hate this man. The carnal part of my human existence wants to show him how wrong he is, and make him pay. I know, however, that a life lived controlled by God’s spirit compels us to seek a much higher level of conduct.

You see, if Christ lives in a person, has complete control, and has forgiven them…it is really hard to go on living with hatred towards another human being. That doesn’t mean that the temptation is not there, but there is a power that is greater in you than that which is in the world.

Racism, at its core, is a systematic desire for a group or groups to express their perceived superiority over others. Often times they will single out a particular community, and do what they can to separate them from society, tell them lies, and openly display their hate for them. In essence, there is not much difference between an adulterer and a racist individual. With that being said, there is a part of me that wants to treat someone who is racist with the same contempt as I would the adulterer. I can’t though. I can’t because I have no idea what type of lies that person has been told throughout their life, and I have to believe in my heart that they are eligible for restoration and love as much as I am. If Jesus cannot heal them, then His death on the cross was a waste of time. Sin is sin.

This doesn’t make the whole issue any less frustrating though. I have heard people who wear gold crosses around their necks say the most awful things about people of different races. This is confusing for many reasons.

So, here is my overall thought. There is no such thing as a Christian racist. I say this, because I have heard people getting upset at the Church for racist acts they have seen in media outlets. And, there have been people who have displayed racism in their lives who claim to be believers. Let me make this very clear. Not disagreeing with the Bible, going to church on occasion, and being raised in a semi-religious home does not  make someone a Christian. Nor does giving oneself the label of “good”. A Christian is someone who desires to be like Christ, associates themselves with His crucifixion and resurrection, allows God to transform them, allows the Holy Spirit to guide them, and who has accepted the forgiveness that Jesus offers; all while bearing the fruit of the Kingdom. So, there is no such thing as a “Christian racist”. It cannot exist. Christianity and racism are like oil and water. Sure, there are people who have accepted Christ and who have had to repent of old habits that have arisen temporarily, but that leads to deep grieving and change.

THE HOPE

Jesus led by example, and when He wanted to emphasize a virtue, He displayed the virtue through His action. Look at the story of the Woman at the Well in John chapter 4. There were two main issues being addressed when we look deep into this story. The first issue was the sin (and thus the cure) in the life of the woman (who happened to be a Samaritan). Water was just the illustration. Jesus offered her a way out of her constant searching for love, fulfillment, and forgiveness. Jesus took care of all of that, and offered her abundance. The second issue pertained to race. This woman was astonished that a Jew would even speak to a Samaritan, not to mention offering her something to drink. This was unheard of, because of the deep racial divide. In other areas of scripture, the implication is that even the disciples accepted this divide as common. Jesus shatters this mentality, loved this woman, and contradicted the culture.

Hope exists, because there is a God who fashioned all of us from the same dust. This same God declared that we were made in His image. This is a foundational belief in the Judeo-Christian world view. Hope comes from the fact that God forgives and transforms human hearts. He forgives.

The old me wants to hate people that are full of racism and hatred. I have realized that this type of hate is the same brand of hate as those wielded by racist individuals; only in different packaging.

So, a Christian, if guided by the Holy Spirit would spend more time serving, loving, giving, feeding, clothing, proclaiming truth, and praying than complaining and allowing anger to fester and grow. In fact, Jesus did his ministry in the shadow of pagan statues, unholy temples, and hateful hearts. His mind and heart were focused on the people, and He knew the only true kingdom was not this way.

The heart of the Christian is occupied and Jesus does not need a roommate. Hate does not fit.

As followers of Jesus we are called to speak out against hatred of every kind. We are also called to serve those who are not following God.

I end all my blogs the same way…but today I mean it more deeply than I have in the past. With a broken heart yearning for reconciliation, I say it once again…

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

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beware.

oswald quote

He Prayed

PapawIn ancient times, names had significantly more meaning that they do now. We often name our children based on an inspirational word, or significant person from our past. Sometimes names become synonymous with an influential (or infamous) person. For instance, you may meet a wonderfully nice and respectful person named Charles Manson (you can imagine it would be common) but you may be a little skittish to allow him to come over for dinner.

Long ago, a name associated a person with their life’s work or even their ancestors. A first name that carried down from a father would carry certain responsibilities. There would be a requisite legacy that would be implied. A last name would often display the person’s craft or occupation. Tanners tanned animal hides. Smiths made things with their hands. Archers were skilled hunters. You get the idea.

My middle is Byron. If you were to look at the meaning of this name in a database of name origins, there would be nothing that really stood out. In my family, there is deep meaning in this name.

This name that is often only represented by an initial on important documentation comes from my grandpa, Byron (nickname: Barney). He was a soldier in the Korean Conflict, and understood what it meant to fight, survive, and experience immense suffering. His job in the military was to make sure the infantry had their supplies so they could fight and withstand the enemy’s advances. He told stories of times when he would be in a fox hole, and lacked confidence that he would live to see another day. In those moments, he leaned on the word of God and prayer. You can imagine that they were prayers that were hurried, imperfect and broken, but those utterances began to lay a foundation for the future. A long lasting relationship was formed because his prayer life started out of desperation.

Throughout the rest of his life, his prayer life grew, matured, and deepened. This was so much the case that people sought him out to give him special prayer requests. When he prayed, things really happened. Often I would catch him seemingly referring to Jesus as a brother and friend. He knew God was far above him, but there was such an intimate closeness that he imagined himself as an ancient disciple, following his best friend around, doing miracles out of habit. My Papaw was known to be a mighty prayer warrior. Daily he would take hours to spend time doing his real business; praying. For him, the time went quickly as it often does when one spends time chatting with an old friend. He didn’t just ask God for things either. He praised, learned, and got to know Jesus better through these times.

I had the privilege of seeing power released during these times when he called out to God. I have seen miracles happen in front of me because of things whispered. I learned to never look at prayer as a high and lofty pursuit, or as a business meeting with the CEO, but a relationship building conversation with a friend or a tired cry in the lap of a father. So, please forgive me when I grin when people call this life a fairy tale. To me, it is just like telling a recently deployed soldier that war is not real.

I have my Papaw’s DNA in me. I have his name too. This carries responsibility. I am not sure why, but people come to me often with prayer needs, and I get excited to include that in my daily visit with my Father. I want to have a deeper prayer life like he did. I want to be closer to God in ways people dream of. I don’t care if He ever answers another prayer I pray. I just want to talk and listen. I want this, because I know power is released when this happens.

Papaw was a warrior (my Mamaw is also one). Until the day he died, his job never changed. I gladly pick up the job where he left off and make sure those on the field have what they need to withstand the enemy’s advances.  All I know is that, when I pray, things happen. You can call it chance or luck, but these “coincidences” seem to occur more when I cry out to God. So, I will stick with my routine. I just need to keep my heart clear, and stay serious about the work.

Next month, we will celebrate 4 years since he left us to live with his best friend and King.

My grandfather was not overly special. He just prayed.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

A Warning to Christians

Are you feeling malnourished?

Cheeseburger @ Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe.

The Indy Burger Guy visited the Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

While I was only born in the 1980s, even I get a little nostalgic when walking into a ’50s-themed diner. It may have something to do with my love of old Hollywood (most of these places have pictures of 1950s icons like Marilyn Monroe and James Deen adorning the walls) or the fact that I have fond memories of visiting a ’50s-style diner with my extended family up in Goshen, IN when I was younger (Alley Oops Diner, now closed unfortunately).

At any rate, if you’ve never been to a ’50s-style diner, you might be expecting something more in line with Jack Rabbit Slim’s from Pulp Fiction, with a waitstaff dressed like ’50s icons like Mamie Van Doren and Buddy Holly, booths in the shape of 1950s model American sports cars, a large dance floor…

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Filling My Daughter’s Tank

Filling My Daughter's TankFrom time to time, at my full time day job, I have to work a shift that necessitates that I work until 8pm. Obviously, no one would consider this to be an ideal shift, but I have found that there are some benefits to working these hours. When I work this time span, I start at 11am. This means that, in theory, I could sleep in and enjoy a longer morning before heading into my workload for the day. I have kids, though. So, this naturally lends itself to chaos and an early wake time regardless.

Last week, I had a late day and had the opportunity to spend time with my daughter. My son was at school and my wife decided to go on a walk with her friend. I asked her what she wanted to do, and she chose to play with baby dolls and make shadow puppets. We had a great time, and there was a lot of laughter and smiles from both of us. It was so fun, and she led the play time as if she had been planning exactly what she would do if she had alone time with Daddy. Everything was calculated, and the game rules she made were well thought out. I could tell she was in her girly element.

At the end of this play time, Mommy came home and it was time for me to go to work. My little girl hugged my neck and kissed me goodbye. It was a tender moment and I loved the look in her eyes as she focused her attention on me.

To understand the reason why this day was significant, it is important to understand how my daughter has behaved lately. She has experienced behavioral issues and general disobedience. Part of the problem is the fact that she is 3, but there were times that it went beyond a typical 3 year old general disobedience. There has been something missing, and my wife and I have been frustrated because of it.

Before you make assumptions, I want to clear the air and say that I regularly play with my kids, and make it a point to show them a great time (I also discipline them as needed). I can probably admit that I tend to spend a larger quantity of time with my son because of his age and certain things that we do together, but not so much that there is favoritism shown.

This impromptu playdate with my girl brought about a realization in me that I had been hypothesizing for a little while. Her behavior was kind, sweet, and loving for most of the day after I left for work. She obeyed more, and even kept her focus (for the most part).

I realized that she needed me to “fill her tank” from time to time. The times when I have taken her on dates, or focused my attention on her alone has always made a significant difference in her day. Often, she runs on empty, and I have the power and the spiritual obligation to fill her with life and call out the girl she was made to be. I am her closest male connection to God here on Earth. I know that sounds extreme, but I take personal responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of my family, and I am the leader when it comes to helping my kids understand God and His faithfulness in their lives. I don’t take that lightly.

So, it has come to my attention that I need to take more time to fill the spiritual and emotional tanks of my children (also my wife, but that is another blog post for another day). I thank God that I did not wait until they were older to find this out.

My daughter needs me, and I need her. God is growing me through loving her in her own unique way. Her behavior is not perfect, but I can see glimpses of change from time to time.

My princess needs her king.

-Landon DeCrastos

Just One More

one moreI can only imagine how the disciples and the extended family of Christ followers felt sitting in a poorly lit room 7 weeks after Jesus ascended into Heaven. They probably felt defeated and completely drained of all hope. When you think about it, the only instruction they had was to “go back to Jerusalem” and pray. This would have naturally seemed counterproductive, but then again they have seen amazing things happen because of time spent in desperate prayer. But…Jesus was gone now…and it seemed unlikely that anything memorable was going to happen.

They remembered the good ‘ol days when just 12 disciples and their supernaturally gifted rabbi healed, preached, and interacted with individuals with the obvious power and authority of Yahweh. 12 followers grew into thousands of families who longed to be affected by this man who seemed to fulfill all the requirements of the long-awaited Messiah.

The remnant of followers reorganized themselves and scraped together the last set of believers to pray as instructed. Then, something amazing happened. The Holy Spirit came and empowered this marginally talented bunch of commoners and the masses came to faith in Jesus. They simply prayed and then were faithful to what God led them to do. Each person had a role and a small amount of people impacted the world. The events of Pentecost in Acts 2, created a domino effect that has changed the course of history. God’s power was shown and people repented of their sin. The world was beginning to reconcile with the Creator; one person at a time.

There have been 2 movies lately that have impacted my view of God’s call on my life. They have been used as an illustration for my divine purpose.

The first movie is Schindler’s List. If you have ever seen that movie, you know that the main character, Oskar Schindler saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the brutal reign on Adolf Hitler in World War II. He spent all of his wealth to employ these men, women, and children from death at the hands of the Nazi party. At the end of the movie, Schindler was stricken with grief because he realized there were still things he could have sold to have the money to rescue more Jews. He could have sold his car, his gold lapel pin, etc.

The second movie is a newer one; Hacksaw Ridge. In this movie, Desmond Doss (who was a conscientious objector in World War II) was a medic who saved many men who were injured on the battle field. He single handedly dragged these men and lowered them down a cliff face to safety. Some estimate that he saved over 100 people (true story). While his hands, back, and arms ached heavily as he lowered them to where they needed to be, Doss kept repeating a simple prayer to help him gain strength. “Lord, just one more”, he said over and over. He wanted to save people so desperately, and he knew he didn’t have the strength to do it on his own. He wanted to rescue “just one more”.

There is a theme running through these scenarios. God has shown me that my purpose in life is not to put more butts in church seats, but to help create a traffic jam at the gates of Heaven. I have fervently prayed that God will give me “just one more” person to minister to, and impact for the gospel of Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to see people transformed by Jesus. I know I can’t do this on my own, but I can do what I have been told to do.

Can you pray that prayer with me? Can you pray that God will continue to put people in my path to love, serve, and grow with?

If you follow Jesus…I will pray the same for you.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos


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