Follow the Cloud

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

Avoiding Trouble

A few days ago, I revealed a deep dark secret about my childhood. It was one of those times in which my brother and I did not have the wisest of judgment and God was gracious to protect us from harm. Stories that end in barely escaping harm seem to take up a large part of my memory. Being a boy, daredevil stunts came naturally.

One particular activity that I regret as I reflect on my childhood (in which I participated in a few times) was the ridiculously stupid firework war with my friends. These wars didn’t include harmless poppers or makeshift sparkler swords….no….we would shoot bottle rockets at each other and throw small explosives in the opponents direction. It was dumb.

My friend’s dad happened to have some old cars on his property which he would use to harvest cosmetic car parts. One time, when we were engaging in our ruthless war, one of us accidently shot (with pinpoint accuracy) a bottle rocket into the gas tank (no, I am not kidding) of one of these cars. The world stopped spinning, and we all looked at each other with panic. We did the bravest, and most manly thing we could think of….we ran. Somehow, by the grace of God, the rocket was a dud and no explosions occurred.

If we were to list the things that God has saved us from, how long would the list be? Perhaps these things are situations that we have prayed about for a long time, or maybe they are things that we were complete ignorant about. In either circumstance, God, for some reason, helped us escape the most severe of all the possible consequences. One has to wonder, then, if we have some greater purpose, or in those times, if there was a reason for this rescue.

In life and even in death, God has a plan for all of us. It is up to us to recognize this truth, and obey God to see it fulfilled. This doesn’t mean we are always clear on the details, but it does mean we trust that God desires the best for us.

-Landon DeCrastos

 

Getting in Trouble

Is it appropriate to reveal a long held hidden secret in this type of blog? I am not sure, but today I am going to do just that. This secret is one that my brother and I have been holding on to since the late 80’s. In fact, he may object to the fact that I am revealing this secret. Okay, here it goes…

When we were younger, my brother and I were playing in the field behind our house.  Like normal boys who didn’t listen to the voice of reason (and ironically had a firefighter for a father), after jumping ramps with our bikes we became bored and decided to light small things on fire (leaves, trash, etc). Well as you could imagine this got out of hand quickly and soon a large fire erupted and engulfed a significant portion of the field. The next few minutes felt like an eternity. All we had were cardboard boxes that we had brought some things in so we thought it would be a great idea to somehow try to put the fire out with these boxes. This was a bad idea. Eventually, after kicking sand on the fire everything was fine. From then on we vowed to not reveal our secret until we were adults and were guaranteed not to get in trouble.

We are brothers, so you already know that we used this event to blackmail each other, and force each other to do the other’s chores. All we had to do was look at each other and say “I will tell Mom and Dad about the matches”…and all arguments would cease. The truth was always kept hidden to control the other sibling.

As humans, our tendency in life is to attempt to make our situation look better than it is. We try to hide or even ignore the truth when it is inconvenient because we feel like people will look down on us or we will even get “in trouble” if we are transparent.

If all truth belongs to God then it stands to reason that living a life that embraces truth will lead to blessing. Doing the right thing will never return void…it may hurt at first, but it will always benefit.

Trust in God today. Do what is right.

-Landon DeCrastos

Life’s Most Important Question

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
      Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”- Luke 9:20

I can only imagine that Peter was caught off guard by this important question. He was simply reporting about what others are saying about Jesus, and somehow the subject was flipped to Peter’s reaction. He wasn’t prepared to deal with the implications of this answer, but he chose his words carefully.

Truth be told, this is a question that each of us need to answer at some point. Who do we say that He is? Is Jesus only someone we can learn from? Will following Him make us a good person? Do we teach our children about Him so they will be nice, and play well with others? OR…..Is Jesus truly Lord of our life?

Does following Him suggest a way of living, or a pattern of life? Is it predictable or unexpected?

I am convinced that far too many people forsake the abundant life found in Christ, because of the example shown by those who claim to be followers. I have said it many times….each day I must wake up and make a decision to put Christ back on the throne of my life. The truth is….sometimes I take that spot from Him. Making Jesus the Lord of my life involves more than just reading my Bible, or praying a lot, or even giving my income to the local church. Surrender involves starting the day asking “what now?”.

Take the leap today….ask God to be in control and let Him take care of the rest. Abundance will flow from this practice, and a new fire will burn within your life.

-Landon DeCrastos

Building with Fire

ImageTwo men set out to build tool sheds behind their houses. They were determined to get this project done in one day. They knew that they had to have the right tools to get the job done. These men wanted to build structures that would last a long time and be useful for many years to come. Each man had the same supplies delivered (paint, wood, windows, etc.)  to make sure the shed would be complete.

So, the first man began his morning early and set out to build a sturdy haven for his miscellaneous storage needs. He brought a hammer with him and some appropriate nails to finish the job. At the end of the day he stood in front of a completed work and he was proud of his accomplishment.

The second man brought the tools he thought he needed to finish the job. He brought gasoline and a blow torch. He spent all day trying to construct this shed but only ended up with a pile of smoldering wood. The dream to create this building went up in flames.

As Christians, God has given us all the necessary equipment to impact the world and have a successful Christian life. Why, then are so many believers struggling in their growth? The answer to this question has nothing to do with the supplies God has already delivered, but with the tools we are bringing to the project. Are we using these tools to build or destroy? God has given us the power and authority to do both.

This concept applies to many scenarios. Do we spend our time gossiping and tearing people down behind their back OR, do we desire to help guide them toward success? Do we constantly complain, OR do we try to find a way to get involved to make things better? Do we spend most of our energy becoming the victim in every circumstance, OR do we celebrate the victories in our life?

If we were to ask God what He desires for our life as a Christian what do you think He would say? Well, I am glad you asked because it is actually very clear in His word. He desires that we may experience abundant life! We are already saved. We are already going to enjoy Heaven when we transition from this life, but abundant life means a productive life of growth and joy. We must spend our time and energy offering freedom and forgiveness to others, and searching for opportunities to display the joy you have found in Jesus Christ.

Stop bringing fire to the project. Choose life and abundance!

-Landon DeCrastos