The Planet

This poem is based on a bedtime story I told my children….
——

Let me introduce you to a planet
Made up of two races
One made of lava
The other with rocky bodies and faces

These two groups
Have a long standing fight
That has lasted for years
Each group believed they were right

No one really knew
How the ancient quarrel started
Just that one time they were unified
And now they were parted

Old Legends told
of a race long ago
A peaceful nation
Who had a glossy glow

Day after day
The two people groups would meet
On the battlefield to fight
Chanting “war” rhythmically to the beat

In the heat of battle
The two groups would clash
The matches would be quick
and would be done in a flash

One day a strange man
Came from over the hill
And met the two groups
Who both were ready to kill

This man seemed different
He had a smooth and rocky look
He shine was brilliant
Everyone’s attention he took

Somehow he stopped the commotion
The groups stopped to hear
He yelled “HALT!” at full blast
He gained everyone’s ear

This man had an idea
One that may do the trick
He knew it sounded crazy
But they had nothing else to pick

He told them to form two lines
Each facing the other team
Then told them to embrace
No matter how unnatural it seamed

With frowns and complaints
The first few locked arms
Then something amazing happened
That caused them no harm

Both groups transformed
And changed to something new
And looked like this strange man
Shiny like morning dew

This was the race
Of the stories from before
The peaceful obsidian race
They heard about in lore

Then immediately
All in attendance complied
Both groups came over
to the other groups side

Putting down their weapons
And finding common ground
Both sides were transformed
And enduring change was found

The moral of the story
If you cannot see
Is that sometimes acceptance
Can change you and me.

Mass Marketing

It happens to all
when going for a drive
we get distracted by marketing
Meant to make businesses thrive

They are seen when our eyes wander
when we are not looking ahead
They try to sell us goods
expecting us to believe what we just read.

Some are for public service
warning us to stay on track
to keep our lives together
giving us information we may lack

Others may be rather crude
selling things we dare not buy
for fear of a tarnished reputation
with messages so sly

I am interested in a message of hope
one that will take away my pain
not another gadget
to flush my money down the drain

There was one billboard I heard about
displayed back in ancient times
One that advertised love
through a man paying for his crimes

The odd thing about this ad
was he didn’t do anything wrong
But this marketing piece
seemed to sing a different song

The one on display was called a fake
for the whole world to see
shown on the side of the road
humiliated publicly

I still can’t help but think
there was something good about this guy
The one they called Jesus
With compassion in His eye

I hear he came for joy
and to set the captive free
a billboard painted in blood
a marketing piece meant for me.

-Landon DeCrastos

6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You

GodtellyouHave you ever tried to talk to a preschool age child (or husband) during their favorite show on TV? The lack of attention can get on your nerves. Okay…I guess you caught it. I am one of those parents who allow my child to watch TV in the morning. Hey, sometimes I am tired and I need my son just to do his own thing for a few minutes while my brain wakes up. I am horrible…I won’t even talk about the fact I don’t buy organic…OH THE AGONY!!! Call the police!

I digress….ANYWAY, have you ever been in a situation in which you have tried to have a serious conversation with someone only to find out more than halfway through that they didn’t hear or understand anything you have said t them. Frustrating huh? Or, like I mentioned above, have you ever been listening to someone talk and their tangents got in the way of the message? This can also be infuriating. Sometimes you just either want to clearly convey your message or you want to be heard.

I think God feels the same way much of the time. There are times when I am certain that He is trying to teach me something, and because of my own pride or reluctance, He can’t get through. Not because He is powerless, but because I am distracted or I have my proverbial “fingers in my ears” and I would rather follow my own way. Well, there are many things the creator of the universe tries to say to us, and we could spend all day discussing them. Today, I want to touch on a few.

Here are 6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You today…I think all are applicable to anyone who believes. 

1. No hurt goes unheard– It is so easy to begin to believe that all our suffering is falling on deaf ears. Sometimes we can pray with such passion and for such a long time that, when we don’t see the answer or relief coming, it seems like God is ignoring our plea. When we are going through these trials, God is right there with us, suffering as well. He definitely has insight into the His own perfect plan, but I can only imagine that the reason He also suffers is because He wants to bring the solution to you right now…He just knows what is perfect. He wants the best for you, and sometimes this means we have to wait. No one likes to see their child in pain…even if we know that the pain will not last forever.

2. Sometimes the answer is not as difficult as you think– When we pray, it is easy to ask that God brings a miracle that will completely change the whole situation. We often wonder how God will resolve the conflict we are facing, and trust that He will, but also concoct complicated answers that we think will solve the problem. Then, we tell God these are the steps that need to be taken to implement the miracle. The answer is often easier than that…and it involves becoming uncomfortable and barreling through to victory.

3. Doing the right thing is always the best thing– This is hard to hear. It is also hard to understand sometimes. Many times, we truly do know what is right, but often it conflicts with what is easy. What is right may hurt feelings, or change lives…but the right thing will always lead to abundance. The wrong thing may feel better in the moment…it may even relieve some pain temporarily. It will never, however, lead you into the fullness of God’s plan. The right thing also will always be in line with God’s word.

4. You will never stray too far– There are people who do not follow God because of their anger, guilt, and shame. These feelings often come from a time of reflection on the person they have become and memories of a sin-filled past. Many think that they have sinned way too much for God to accept them…this is simply not true. God wants to meet you where you are at, and give you His abundant life now. Not after you clean up your act. He is waiting.

5. You will never get too close– If you have ever had a relationship in life that has truly let you down you know exactly what I am talking about. You know, you have loved someone and trusted them deeply and they turned around and used that power against you. Guess what. Your relationship with God is nothing like that, and it will never be that way. You can cultivate a close intimate relationship with Him and expose all of your flaws. He will accept you and use it to grow, stretch, and mold your life. It is about time you let go of the fear of getting close.

6. Wearing a T-shirt doesn’t count– If you really want to know what it means to be a follower of Christ…it has nothing to do with the cool new Christian T-shirt you just bought online. You may think you are telling satan to “shove it” when you wear it around town, but what you are really doing (sometimes) is trying to find a way to display the message without living it. This will not work. God wants you…not your clothing. Inanimate objects can not be spiritually redeemed. They have no soul. Now, when you wear that inspirational t-shirt…remember this…how can you truly be a walking billboard for the creator? Add things like compassion and forgiveness to the mix as well. These will go far. Your t-shirt will doesn’t count when talking about your Christian witness.

God wants to say so much more to us. Don’t let a blog have to be the one to tell you.Open your ears, eyes, and heart. It is time to listen.

-Landon DeCrastos

5 Confessions of a Tired Pastor

Yawning2At 2:30pm today, I hit the wall…you know what wall I am talking about. The one you may hit everyday too. I try so desperately to fight it, but often it overtakes my every move. A yawn escapes and there is something so satisfying about letting it go. It may be my personality, but I often find myself in these moments snapping myself out of a daydream. I do that often…I can’t seem to help it. Then, somehow, I make it through. I leave work and come home to a house teeming with life, pretend and snotty noses…and then it is bedtime for the kids and sometimes I stare at a blinking cursor…knowing that God wants me to share my heart, but with droopy eyelids. This is my life.

As a bivocational pastor, I have found myself getting into unhealthy routines because my brain and heart are on autopilot. Between my day job, preaching, visiting people in the hospital, counseling people, putting out fires, parenting, and life in general it is easy to make excuses for myself. As I write this blog today, I feel led to admit some things you may not know about me. I am tired…and I have some confessions to make.

The following are 5 confessions I have about my life as a pastor:

1. I don’t get into God’s word like I should– It is funny. The most energizing and life giving activity that I engage in is something that is often put on the back burner. Granted, I do dip into scripture regularly to prepare my messages, but I definitely feel the damage when I get into a habit of “snacking” on scripture and neglect the full meals that I need. I know that God is not going to keep me from Heaven because I got half way through the Psalms and got side tracked…and really that’s not the point. The point of soaking in scripture is to fall more in love with the author. I need this.

2. Sometimes I want to cuss– It’s true. It really affects the glow of my halo too. Don’t worry conservative fan base….I don’t, but I want to. Often something will come up that is stressful, or I have realized I have dropped the ball on a project, and I get as far as a “crud” and dare not go any further. What I have found, for me, is that the less I soak in scripture as mentioned above, the more these thoughts erupt.

3. From time to time I pray selfishly– It is a joy to pray for people in their time of need or simply when they come to mind. I will confess that there are rare times when I simply want to have what I want. A fat bank account, a new house, a smaller pant size, and the list goes on and on. As a result of these things, sometimes God hears about it…and the prayer request that someone gives me comes second. God checks me during these times, and reminds me of the blessings that He has provided…or…at the moment I will see one of my children boumding past my view and I am reminded how rich I am.

4. I find myself not trusting God– There are times where I look at the bank account and the prognosis doesn’t look good or I gear up for a relational battle that I think may be coming, and I forget that God is supposed to be in control. I try to take hold of the outcome so I am not left looking silly or so I can still look good. God has shown me, so many times, that his timing and methods are perfect. I don’t have to worry…but I confess that even though I preach this at church regularly, I often get caught in the negativity trap.

5. I often feel sorry for myself– If something happens to me or there were not many people at church this Sunday, I tend to have a short-lived pity party. It is a trance that I get into. I convince myself no one cares and no one should care, and I begin to get upset based on a false reality that I create in my mind. I think God wants so much more for me. He is always waiting for me, to snap out of it, and return to serving.

Like mentioned above, it is easy to come up with excuse after excuse. I could tell you about all the things I need to do between now and next week and cite these things as a reason for the way I handle situations. I am tired. I am a pastor. I desire to know Him more and serve Him. I get angry, and I falter. Obviously, I know God wants more from me. Sometimes it is really hard. But, when I think about it…I wouldn’t have it any other way. What keeps me going is the celebration I see in a person’s eyes when God reveals Himself to them in a mighty way. Really…I am living the dream, and my faults are opportunities to be transformed. I am not perfect but God is chpping away at my edges. I am so grateful.

-Landon DeCrastos

The Truth About My Church (and others)

churchCurrently, the church I pastor is seeing more and more new people each week in our worship service. On a personal note, I have been incredibly encouraged concerning the growth I am seeing and the excitement on a weekly basis. Some people have approached me after a short time of attending and have sought to become more involved in the church. This is also great!

As I have reflected on this in the last few days, I have felt the need to tell people what they should expect when joining my church. The following are the 7 things that you should expect when taking the step to become a leader or generally involved in this worship community….these things are universal and can be applied to any other church.

1. Someone will eventually hurt your feelings….Someone is going to say something to you, or step on your toes, or even blurt something out randomly that will offend you.

2. You will encounter hypocrites. Churches are full of them and many are leaving the church for this reason…..grocery stores, civic groups, concerts, political groups, bus stops, restaurants, parking lots, hospitals, call centers, parties, and family reunions are also full of hypocrites….good luck avoiding those too.

3. Someone in my church will annoy you. Fact: everyone has an annoying side.

4. My message will not make sense to you on occasion. That’s okay…perhaps God will use it in your life later.

5. The music may not connect with you this Sunday. That’s okay….perhaps God will use it in your life later.

6. There will be discouraging times in our church. You can bet on this…..we are a church full of people with problems and regular discouragements. It just makes sense that a group of people would reflect this….

7.  Church will be boring at times. ….umm……..I got nothing. Sorry.

Overall, the church is not only a family but it is a redemptive and purpose-oriented community. Due to the fact that it is filled with people, not everything is going to be perfect. When we are interacting with people with wounds, hang ups, and brokenness we have to understand that grace is not just something for people on the outside but we are the prototype before distribution.

Redemptive communities require imperfection to participate.

-Landon DeCrastos