The Dressing Room

temple

Staring off in a daydream, the bleat of a lamb from the outside of the room breaks his trance. It’s almost as if this innocent creature knows what is coming. As always, even though he is completely experienced in what he was about to do, he can’t honestly say he is used to doing it. Each time a sacrifice occurs, he is at the center, and there is a great responsibility on his shoulders. After all, he is the High Priest and his job is to become unclean and kill for the cleansing of an entire nation. When he finds his focus once again, he finds himself staring into the slightly distorted reflection of a highly polished bronze mirror. It is time to get dressed, and he begins the clothing ritual.

His hands tremble as he puts on each requisite piece of clothing. With each article, he not only feels the physical weight, but he also acknowledges the spiritual, emotional, and mental gravity of what he prepares to do. The ephod goes on comfortably, but when the specialty pieces are assembled on his body, the realizations flood into his mind. There is a sense of pride that occurs due to his office but is dampened with a healthy level of fear. He runs through a catalog of memories of recent events and tries to recall any sins that he may of knowingly or unknowingly committed before going any further. After a deep breath, he continues.

It is great to be dressed as the High Priest in public. People respect you, and there is a certain celebrity status associated with the position. That however does not negate the gruesome task at hand. He looked at his reflection a final time before he tied a rope around his ankle. Tying this rope forces him to think about the importance of what he is about to accomplish. The braided rope is also a visible sign that he is imperfect and doesn’t deserve to be in God’s presence. It symbolized a possibility that he dares not think of. He thinks of the stories in which his own people treated the holiness of God with a casual apathy, and thus were struck down. He could easily die in a matter of hours. This would invalidate the absolution of an entire people group. He needed to be right with God. As the mediator of the people, he closes his eyes and breathes a desperate prayer. The only comfort he has with the thought of dying is the fact that someone can pull him out of the Holy of Holies using this rope if it does occur. He tames his beard with a little olive oil, nods his head at the mirror, and walks out of the room. He avoids eye contact with the lamb that is roped to a post outside of the room, and then their journey begins to the Temple.

God is waiting…but there is much more to do before they meet.

…to be continued.

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Christ In Me Means…

The more I learn about Jesus, the more I desire to know Him. Consequently, the more I get to know Him, the more I realize that there have been times that I have misunderstood Him.

In my early Christian days, there was this unspoken fear that whatever I did would drag me down to Hell where I would burn forever. I was always looking over my shoulder, paranoid that Jesus was hiding behind the bushes, waiting to pounce whenever I veered from the righteous path.

Then, there were my college days. It was interesting to read the perspectives of philosophers and theologians. The words I read helped me to relax, and I began to look at my spiritual life in a more lenient manner. God was not out to get me. He loves me. His grace is abundant, so my disobedience doesn’t mark the end, but the possibility of a new beginning. Jesus looks at the big picture, right? True, but there was still so much lacking. My inner life turned into one that I cultivated when it was convenient for me to do so.

As I have grown older I have come to the conclusion that there have been times that I truly did not know Jesus for who He truly is. I knew about Him. I accurately understood His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love, but I never thought to analyze Christ in me. What fruit could Jesus produce in my heart if He took control? Complete control. Who is He in me? Well, I have thought about this and I attempted to put it into words. Not only who He is in me, but what this really means.

Christ in me is power to stand up to the temptation of the flesh.

Christ is me is the end of all excuses and a desire to follow.

Christ in me is the desire to see the world changed by being a small part of His kingdom come.

Christ in me is an abandonment of self.

Christ in me implies life only from embracing death.

Christ in me means becoming weary of all that grieves Him.

Christ in me is a yearning to be whole.

Christ in me is not a political stance but a life devoted to serve the world.

Christ in me is a desire to become less.

Christ in me is a desire to live out my purpose.

Christ in me is recognizing the reality and importance of His word, His fellowship, and His grace.

Christ in me means passionately loving my wife.

Christ in me means firmly, and compassionately loving my children.

Christ in me means becoming a rescue to the broken.

Christ in me means boldness.

Christ in me means a dissatisfaction with all that is unlike Him.

Christ in me is a deep longing for more than a religious label with no outward devotion.

In order to know Him more, I must allow Him to move in, destroy what once was, and replace everything.

-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

My Greatest Nightmare

Tonight, I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. It was so much fun, and while we played we laughed and got to bond in a special way. As I was playing with them, I reflected on my greatest nightmare. Yes…that’s right…..my greatest nightmare. I know that sounds somewhat odd, but to be honest if you have followed this blog for any amount of time you already know I sometimes reflect on things that are unusual. So…my greatest nightmare? Allow me to explain.

8 years ago, a movie came 0ut that I could only watch a couple times. Some considered it somewhat of a dramatic comedy, but when I watch it this film scares me. The movie is called “Click”.

The premise of the story revolves around Adam Sandler’s character, Michael, who discovers a magic remote that controls his surrounding environment. He has the ability to pause, and fast forward time. When he is impatient he simply fast forwards time to a more desirable event. The problem is, this remote saves his preferences and begins to predict when he will use its powers. So, when it senses conflict it will automatically skip “scenes”. In the story, Michael, overuses this feature and finds himself snapping out of a trance nearly 20 years in the future. Michael had been on autopilot this whole time and, as a result, his marriage was over, and he doesn’t recall the childhood of his own kids.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I woke up and my children were adults. I didn’t recognize them and they were indifferent toward me. It was a nightmare. It took me a long time to fall back asleep.

I desire to soak up this time as much as possible.

You have a lot to do on a regular basis. You have to go to work, finish your degree, save for retirement, and navigate life’s conflicts. If you are not careful…you may skip the most important things that life has to offer. Our desire is to be serious enough to gain credibility and work hard enough to eventually retire, but when can we slow down and be available for those around us? Pray hard that this nightmare doesn’t become your reality.

So…tonight I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. Not only because it was fun…..but I can’t afford to let Satan win.

-Landon DeCrastos

Fighting an Old Friend

Fear is an interesting force. It is something that can slow progress and halt our growth. It is something that everyone experiences from time to time. Why?

Why do we fear so many things?

We fear that the worst will happen, that one person will be mad, death, bankruptcy, and a laundry list of other things. Some even fear being afraid. Does this seem rational?

To us, in the moment, it seems very rational. I think there is something within everyone that activates when we experience fear that truly believes that we can change a potential outcome simply by being afraid. We know fear is not a great thing, and we really do not want to have it, but most people, when confronted about their fear will defend it with all they have. It is toxic. It steals our joy. It even sometimes manifests itself in physical illnesses.

But……it is familiar.

Let’s look at it honestly. Sometimes the worse case scenerio actually does happen. We are forced to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do run out of money for bills, that one person exits our life, or everything falls apart. Then what?

Some, out of fear, will give up altogther…thinking that inactivity will solve their problems. The fact is this only perpetuates a fearful spirit. If you think about it, many of the terrible things that we are going through right now have more to do with fearing the worst and actually experiencing the worst. Those that choose to learn from what happened realize that God can produce fruit from their struggle.

When we put our faith in God, it is on His resources that we rely. This means, fear of a potential outcome is not a right we can claim because it is not us that has the responsibility of coming through. God uses us, guides us, and fills us with His spirit for a reason. So that we do not have to rely on what we have to make sure things happen the way they should.

Let’s not be afraid anymore. Even if it is not going to be okay…..it will be okay. That family member you lost, the money you can’t get back, the person who has walked out…….God will use this to grow you and build your testimony. It doesn’t mean He caused it to see you suffer, but He can use anything for His glorious outcome.

-Landon DeCrastos

 

Monsters

monsterIt was an average morning. It was early and gray outside. This insured that our house was pretty dark when my son woke up. You see….my son pretty much goes to bed as a brief pause in between periods of play time. So, when Daddy and Mommy are in a deep sleep early in the morning, my playful son wakes us all up to start his day.

This particular morning was no different than any other….except for how dark it was in the living room (where we keep his toys). I got him out of bed and released him to go play. He abruptly stopped when his feet hit the hallway. His eyes were wide and he had a look of fear on his face.

“What’s wrong buddy?”, I asked…a bit confused. He was silent. “Come on, let’s go play with your cars.”

Nothing.

“Daddy”, he said. “I can’t go in there because of the monsters.”

I tried not to laugh because I remember those days. In my childhood, for some reason, monsters only existed when the lights are off.

What is it about the dark that suddenly populates our familiar spaces with monsters? It is almost as if they suddenly appear at the control of the lightswitch.

Perhaps there is something deep within us that fears what can’t be seen. This is why faith is a hard sell for some. Darkness, and invisibility make us uncomfortable because we can’t label, control, or plan for what is behind the imaginary curtain. In our minds, monsters are everwhere because we hate not fully knowing.

The Bible gives us the definition of faith. It is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what is unseen (Heb. 11:1). If this were true for us then this would mean we enter our personal darkness with confidence and knowledge that what we encounter will be docile in comparison to the power associated with the author and perfector of our faith.

What would happen if we actually behaved as if faith were real? It may just affect every aspect of our lives…..and dispell the monsters.

-Landon DeCrastos

Manufacturing Fear

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Sometimes it takes me a little longer than usual to go to sleep. My mind is kept awake by the rehearsing of my schedule for the next day, different concerns regarding the previous day, and whether or not I will be able to sleep because of these thoughts presently. The fact is worry, concern, or anxiety is hard to get away from. I can take a vacation, but often it takes me half of the time period to clear my mind and focus on the present relaxation. No matter how relaxed we seem to be, we may always have some degree of concern for the future. This is a part of our culture. Some people justify this concern by saying that they are wanting to prepare for a number of different scenerios. Others would say that it is a result of using our time wisely. Sure, preparation for everyday tasks and appointments is extremely important, but the moment it grows to anxiety is a symptom of something greater. Wouldn’t it be great if our lives were not controlled by fear? The “what if” that floats around our heads regularly….

The Bible tells us that this dream can actually become a reality. We can actually place our burdens upon the shoulders of Jesus. Often this makes us uncomfortable, because we think that He may be too busy. Truth be told…I have thought that at times. Then I think about God’s character. He is all knowing, all loving, all powerful… The one who created the universe can surely bare my burdens.

Ultimately, no amount of information gathering (or worrying) in the present can fully prepare us for what is to come. We can be assured, however, that Jesus is already waiting for us at the intersection of now and tomorrow. Only He can give us true peace in knowing that He has everything under control.

No Jesus no peace….Know Jesus know peace.