Follow The Cloud (Repost)

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My son’s demanding shout came from the back seat…”TELL ME WHERE WE ARE GOING!!!” In my house, if we are doing something fun for the whole family, we keep it a secret from the children. This is not necessarily so we can have a giant reveal and see the look on their faces, but because of the incessant questions and whining that will inevitably occur from the time they are told our fun location to the time we arrive. My kids, when they know something fun is going to happen, tend to get really impatient.

Often we will tell them when we are in the car on our way to the exciting destination. This particular trip was not really that different. In this particular instance, we decided not to tell them until we were about 30 minutes away, due to the fact that it was going to be a two-hour excursion; which was equivalent to some CIA level torture in the minds of my offspring. As implied above, the little man who thinks he runs my house became irate with the fact that we did not let him in on the secret. So, like any good parent, we yelled back disciplinary threats in hopes the screaming would stop. It didn’t. In fact, he became so upset that he threw out a bluff. He said that he didn’t want to go anymore (with arms folded of course) and wanted to go back home. Of course we rolled our eyes and ignored it. We knew he would be elated when we arrived.

I can’t help but think of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. Over and over again, God had shown his power, faithfulness, and eagerness to accomplish His will through His people, but every time, His people slipped back into their own comfortable habits. In the journey that took place during this time, God gave them specific instructions regarding behavior and when to move after the Tabernacle was built. God would show up regularly in the form of a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, and these forms would fill the holiest place of the Tabernacle. Israel saw the result of His glory. God then instructed the people to get up and move their camp, only when God’s presence left. They were instructed to follow cloud and fire. They never knew when they were leaving, and they never knew where they were going. They just followed.

Despite the miracles and consistent provision God gave His people, they still felt the need to complain regularly. Whether it was food, water, sickness, worship, or legal disputes…they made a full time job out of whining about their circumstances. On more than one occasion, many even threatened to find their way back to Egypt. The only reason cited was the fact that Egypt made a mean cheeseburger (paraphrase) and they missed it. In many other cases, people even fell back into idolatry as if they were chomping at the bit to get back into these old habits.

I can accuse Israel of being selfish, impatient, and ignorant all day, but I have to look into the mirror. We tend to be like 4 year olds who do not know where they are going, when God calls us to follow. That is the temptation, at least. We want to know NOW, and if we are not informed then we begin to look back at our past as a comfortable and controllable existence. Faith is the concept of believing in that which we cannot see. We can accept that cognitively, but it is so hard to act as if it were true.

If we ask God, in honest times of prayer, to guide us we must be ready for uncertainty and discomfort. Also, we must be ready to move when He does instead of complain about our lack of knowledge, resources, abilities, and influence. Just follow.

The world is a dark place. It needs us to follow. It needs us to be uncertain but resolute. It needs us to be all in for Christ. What is stopping us?

-Landon DeCrastos

A Father’s Blessing

a-fathers-blessingWhat happened to the practice of a father blessing his children? When I say “bless”, I don’t mean the act of bestowing material goods. I mean blessing in a similar sense that we use the word “anoint” in the biblical context.

In the Bible, we see several instances where a father gives his children a blessing, and this would include an affirmation of who they are and what the father is praying they will become.

Today, we live in a society that would reject this concept on many levels. The current prevailing conversation about the growth of a child centers on the child exploring who they are and forming their own identity. There is nothing wrong with allowing a child to grow and discover what occupation they want to be involved in, but this is not the same as the concept of identity. This task can be confusing and even discouraging for a young person. Perhaps, they are not supposed to do this alone.

The biblical imagery of the father’s blessing shows that the father is instrumental in calling the spiritual identity out of the child as if they were calling upon a militia in hiding to join the battle. A father or father figure’s affirmation in this area is vital, because he is the one who is tasked with recognizing what is not easily seen in this young life.

Today, I want to make known the blessings I have for my children in the form of short letters:

Dear Josiah,

Your name means, “God Heals”. You have such a competitive, and powerful spirit and I have recognized that you also have a compassionate heart. You are my boy, and I love you. Heal the broken. Clothe the naked. Feed the less fortunate. Become a hero to the hurting. You were made, just like the king in scripture who also bears your name, to bring people back to God. You have a huge job ahead of you, and I bless you in the name of Jesus. Grow into who you were made to be. I am so proud of who you already are and how you are a champion for the less fortunate. Fall in love with God’s word. Continue to fight for what is right. Serve the church. Give generously. Share your testimony of how God will show you His miracles. Never stop doing good.

Dear Lynae,

You are my little princess. You were made to glorify God with your body, mind, and spirit. You are too gorgeous for your own good, and this fact will give you great power and impact on the world around you. Always remember that you are perfect. Reject the devil’s lies. He doesn’t stand a chance against you as long as you remain in Christ. I have recognized in you the power you possess in your prayers. So, I am calling out this gift in you. In the name of Jesus, I am blessing you in this area. Continue to grow as a mighty prayer warrior. Someday, you will be sought out for this quality and people will specifically ask you to intercede for them. Your words, and your connection to God will change the outcome of lives that are represented on your prayer list. People will sense God’s presence when they are around you. Even though you are little, you have impressed me with your desire to be nurturing, kind, and loving. Don’t forget who you are and, most of all, whose you are. Daddy loves you.

Kids need direction and affirmation for who they are. They are brand new explorers of this world, and without a tour guide, they will become lost. If you are reading this today, will you allow me to bless you too?

In the name of Jesus, I am calling out the spirit that made you who you are and who God wants you to be. Love each other. Stand for what is right. Pray for your enemies. Remember your value. Don’t forget who you are and whose you are…

That’s all I got…

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

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

Do it anyway

Your life is falling apart…trust anyway

You’re tired and scared…love anyway

Things are not going your way…believe anyway

You’re not sure how things will work out…give anyway

You’re discouraged and angry…minister anyway

You’re in pain and feel used…forgive anyway

You feel as if you are not worthy…show compassion anyway

You have so many excuses…surrender anyway

You feel dead inside…choose life anyway

You simply don’t feel like it…worship anyway

You are tempted and tried…grow anyway

The enemy is attacking…be bold anyway

   With God as our resource, we can do all things. Don’t forget that…

-Landon DeCrastos

Friday Update Email List

Good Morning Friends,

I wanted to personally invite you all to my Friday Update email newsletter. This newletter will keep you up to date with things going on in the life of my family, and the church that I pastor. Usually, I give an update every other Friday, and the content of this email is more personal in nature. I appreciate all of you, and I think you for the support you have given me! There is a new email update coming out today. Sign up now!

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Spiritual Amnesia

remember“Pastor, I have an amazing praise this week…after months of looking for a job, I accepted an offer a few days ago! God is so good!”. Amen, God really is so good.

Declarations like this are common and it is safe to say that each one of us has a similar story. Your prayer was finally answered, the situation you had been dreading ended much better than you thought it would, or even the scenerio in which money showed up out of nowhere when you needed it the most…these events in life make for great testimonies, and they are wonderful stories to share with friends. When we are in the moment, these things give us joy and contentment…we have experienced a MIRACLE! Our faith grows, and our relationship with God becomes more solidified.

We are not so naive as to think that our life will be perfect. Even if God has done something amazing that has gotten our attention, we know that there are going to be some valleys in our lives. The problem comes when we encounter these lows in succession. When we lose sight of the mountain top, God’s voice seems to get quieter and quieter. Then…we feel like we are floating in space and our prayers are falling on deaf ears.

I think sometimes we suffer an illness that I like to call “spiritual amnesia”. In the tough times, we forget about what God has done in the past and how, maybe  just 2 weeks ago, He gave us such an intense blessing that we had to tell the world. Our faith is paused during this time period. We are not bad Christians…we are not going to Hell…we just…forget. We are human and we are in a normal cycle of growth.

What if, in the neutral times of spiritual limbo, we dedicate some time to remembering. We can make recalling God’s blessings into a spiritual discipline. Our prayer life should be filled with gratitude before it is populated with pleas. This will keep is in a pattern of growth and we will recognize even the smallest blessings.

Here is the point. God did not leave you behind. Sometimes we have to go through the darkness, and in doing so, the light becomes that much brighter. Don’t let your current circumstances give you spiritual amnesia. He didn’t forget you…so don’t forget Him.

Never forget you are loved.

-Landon DeCrastos

Isaac Reflects

Walking up the mountainside with my father that day felt very natural. We were traveling there to make a sacrifice to the god that my father called Yahweh. This was the only god that my father worshiped and he seemed to act as if he really spoke to this god. They actually had an intimate relationship…like they were best friends that had been through so much together. Father seemed a little upset and even nervous while we were heading to the altar site that day. He would not look me in the eye and he would answer my questions with short replies. He was talking to Yahweh the whole way. At first the conversation with Yahweh was friendly but then the mumblings sounded more frustrated. Nevertheless, my father seemed determined to give God honor.

After a long walk we finally made it to the site and set up the altar. I soon realized that dad forgot the offering. Obviously we were going to have to go back and get it. This happened one other time before and it was a long day. We had never been to this site before and I was looking at the two servants that were with us and they didn’t seem to notice. I should have said something before we left but I wasn’t paying attention. When I was about to mention the lack of a sacrificial animal my father turned to me and I noticed something alarming. His eyes were puffy, and his beard was soaked with tears. I could tell he had been crying for a long time. My memory went back to the night before when I was awakened by the sound of violent sobbing. Father was upset about something, and he was even pounding the walls…So, EVERYONE was awake.

I then mentioned the fact that we did not have a sacrifice and he looked as if he was angry that I mentioned it. Rather rudely he snapped back at me “God will provide a sacrifice”.  Ok then, remind me never to mention something like that again….he was obviously in a bad mood that day. He picked me up and put me on the altar. I wasn’t sure why but I imagined it was to test the sturdiness and how much weight it could hold. Then he raised the knife with his hand shaking. Wait……what was happening? Was I about to be the sacrifice?

 

Just then we heard a rustling sound. After that, a wimper… It was a beautiful and majestic ram caught in a bush. I then heard a booming voice and I could tell that it was God but I couldn’t understand the words. Dad did though… My father jumped higher than I have ever seen him jump and started laughing as if he were crazy. He kissed me and tossed me to the side like we were wrestling around at home. God provided a ram for us to sacrifice.

Later I found out more than I ever wanted to know about that day. I was the one that God asked my father to sacrifice. His beloved son. I can’t imagine the pain that my father was feeling after God asked him to take this step.  Looking down from my current perspective, and knowing what I do now I have made one main observation about this current generation. I have noticed that sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t understand. If we are obedient, blessings always follow. It’s rather simple really…but applicable to all generations.

-Isaac