A Kind Obsession

Maybe it’s the taste of a slender stick
or the bottom of a cup
Perhaps the screen and one more click
Or the temptation to give up

It could be the thoughts that float in your head
Or the hardened heart forming
When sleeplessness keeps you out of bed
When your emotions are storming

You could be drawn by something nice
Something that feels so good
At the time it seems like paradise
But you still question if you should

Don’t dip your toe in the stream
Don’t think about giving it a try
Don’t fall for that age old scheme
Don’t settle for that lie

Because I know someone who cares much more
He love you no matter what
Even if you have closed the door
And you think it will always be shut

He accepts you no matter where you have been
He knows your soul by name
He can rescue you from your sin
And release you from your shame

We all have clinged to what we know
We have struggled to survive
We can jump into the cleansing flow
Feet first or even dive

Our kind obsession, He can be
The one our hearts long for
If we give Him the chance to set us free
And reopen that welded door.

 

-Landon DeCrastos

Where I Come From

Many people may ask where I am from.

This question has many beautiful layers.

And often we think of just one

We think of location; the place, time, and year.

But my answer is one that I truly hold dear.

I come from so many places, and you may as well.

I come from a testimony that is so exciting to tell.

I come from the prayers of family; fervent and strong.

I come from tears; passionate and long

I come from the sacrifice; brave women and men

I come from a faithful heritage and stories of what has been

I come from the smiles of children holding onto my leg

I come from a wife’s gentle kiss; for which there is no need to beg.

I come fromt the laughter of friends; those I love so dear

I come from the mourning of the lost; wishing they were still near

I come from my personal reflections; my mortality as a man

I come from the Love of God; embracing His plan

Most of all, I come from a Christ who gave up His identity

For freedom, love and life eternally.

-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

Confined By Freedom

A married couple sits in my office and there are long minutes of weeping and silence. They are trying to navigate their emotions, and the anger they feel for one another. The wife has committed adultery, and the husband doesn’t know it yet. I know it as the pastor, because of a previous private conversation with the wife. Both have spiraled downward in their walk with God and their relationship with each other. If it is possible to describe it this way they would say that they hate each other, but still love one another deeply.

The husband drinks a lot. He also has been frustrated with his wife because of her lack of interest in times of privacy. It all makes sense now.

They used to have so much fun together….they thought. They used to stay up late, party, and live however they wanted to live. When I asked them about their spiritual history the wife rolled her eyes and described a legalistic religious past that drove her away from the Church. The husband nodded as if to echo a similar history. “All they ever talked about was things we shouldn’t do”, she said “you can’t drink, you can’t smoke….you can’t have sex…..can’t, can’t, can’t.”

This couple was so broken. As a pastor, I could have sat there and told them everything they did wrong….and believe me there was going to be a time soon for stern guidance…..but right now I was there to listen.

I am not sure if it was because she was caught or she was frightened that she would lose her family as she knew it but she wept bitterly at the thought of divorce. I wish I could give a happy ending to this story, but sadly I can’t. As would be expected the couple split and the whole family dynamic changed.

Why do I tell this story? It is one that is all too common, and so many people are hurting because of this same scenerio. The fact is I can understand why people get frustrated with a church or belief system that seems to be so confining (can’t do this…can’t do that). It is much more attractive to seek to live a life in which one is not confined by such values. I get that. I am not one that could be called a legalist, but I do get tired of  seeing lives torn apart by brokenness. At the time, these lifestyles seem to bring about so much freedom….but way too many times there are people sitting in front of me….weeping….wishing they would have chosen another path. People become captive to their own desires.

God heals….yes……but if we obey Him to begin with He will show us such incredible freedom, and a life that is defined by joy.

Follow Him.

-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

Moses Speaks

Looking back on my life I realize how ill equipped I was under my own power. I knew God was powerful but in my mind I still put limitations on Him. I got into the habit of thinking that my sin bound God from using me for anything significant. Then, my life changing moment occurred. Soon after I killed a man, and subsequently dealt with overwhelming guilt, I had a very unusual encounter with God. He revealed himself to me in the form of a burning bush. I have, obviously, witnessed a bush burn before …it happens all the time in the dry areas. This bush, though, was not being consumed for some reason. It’s like it was being protected from damage and decay somehow. The voice of God was audible in this setting. I felt love. I felt peace. I felt like I was forgiven.

The word God spoke to me was rather odd and, at the time, I thought it was probably meant for someone else. God wanted me to lead an entire race of people (the Israelites) out of the captivity of Egypt. Egypt, by the way, was the most powerful empire in the world. Let’s face it; there was no way this was going to happen. Imagine how angry that would make Pharaoh. Millions of people who were used as the labor force of the empire….just walking out of the country? I think someone would notice that before the plan was implemented. Also, why did God choose me? I can’t even speak clearly. Great leaders have booming, and persuasive voices. Their natural charisma compels people to follow. This was not the way people would describe me.

 

As I looked into the burning bush, I realized that God had the power to protect me from damage. I also realized that He was calling me in the midst of my sin and inadequacies.  My obedience and dependence on Him would be my salvation. I did what God told me to do, and the rest is history.

As I reflect on my history there are things I observe about the current generation. The first observation parallels with my earthly call. The people of God still often act as if they are in bondage. They allow negativity, material possessions, selfishness, entitlement, and anger to hold them captive. They have a hard time embracing the freedom that is available to them. The last observation is that they think God can’t use them if they have sin in their past. I will be the first one to say that I as guilty of that same thought process, but I found out that God uses us….despite us.

Brothers and sisters…embrace your freedom today, and accept the fact that God has an enormous plan for your life. Don’t worry…He will protect you.

-Moses