Dodging Rocks: What Purity Feels Like

dodging rocks

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Take a restful nap with nothing on your mind. Imagine a life where you could exist in peace and harmony. Ok, so I am not leading a yoga class right now, and I may seem like I am going to the extreme, but in all seriousness there are some important lessons to be learned from the practice of embracing peace.

Many people struggle to find stillness in their life, because their mind and body are always on the go. Busyness has taken over hearts and schedules fill up. This is reality. Life happens and we all have a task list to complete. Today, however I don’t want to talk about peace as the opposite of busyness, but peace as the antidote for sin. Purity is peace.

Culturally, we have embraced the lie that says that in order to be accepted and affirmed in society, we must participate in acts of sin and those things that erode our soul. Often, when someone sets out to live a life of purity, avoiding things that take one captive, they are ridiculed and accused of acting “superior” (and certainly those people exist). Then, there are those people who don’t just ridicule the person who tries to glorify God through their actions, but they actively attempt to sidetrack an individual…or perhaps that is not their intention, but their actions would lead one to believe that they do not care about the spiritual well-being of another.  So, what happens is…their actions may help bring about more temptation for a person truly trying to keep on the right path in their life.

Which begs the question…should we take responsibility for another person’s actions? Or…maybe putting it another way…Is it our fault if someone chooses to sin? Well, I think yes and no (contextually speaking). The Bible gives many examples of a transformed and well lived life being practiced in the context of community. The implication, we are all responsible for each another. People that are immature in the faith will only be concerned with themselves.

Let’s look at an analogy that may help us in this discussion. Imagine a tight rope walker performing in front of a large audience. Her act includes balancing on a thin rope and walking from the top of one tall building to the other. The act is very dangerous. Then, imagine, while she is in the middle of her show, people start throwing rocks at her, and will all her might she attempt to balance and avoid being struck by the stones. You can picture the rest of the illustration.

The fact is, as Christians, we can do a lot to help a brother or sister in Christ pursue God’s best for their life. Certainly, we have no control over what happens behind closed doors, but we can be a positive influence and encourager for them.

Everywhere we look, we are surrounded with people with both private and public struggles. Perhaps they are battling alcohol, smoking, or even sex addiction. At the same time, their eyes, mind, and heart are being flooded with images and messages that tell them that going back to that dark place is the only way they will find peace. This battle can lead to a mental breakdown in some cases.

In an ideal context…what would purity feel like? It would be peaceful…relaxing…free. It would make your pillow the softest it has ever been. It would be joy.

What if we exerted energy to help guide others on the right path? A path of purity. I’m not talking about the type of purity we see pledged at church camp when we are teenagers. I am talking about living a life that is dedicated to God and His will.

Brother and sisters…I want you to experience freedom.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

Infinite Compassion

compassionAs Christians, we often talk a big game. Our pastor stands in front of us weekly and teaches us about things like forgiveness, giving, sin, and compassion…hmmmm….compassion. This word, that we hear often said from the pulpit is one that we often agree with in principle, and even yell “amen” when it is mentioned. We agree because we saw that Jesus thought it was a good idea and scripture, in various places, brings it up. What does it really mean, though?

I think we know the concept. When we feel compassion we feel sorrow or sympathy for misfortune or suffering of another. The ignorance found in our Christian behavior is not, though, in defining this word…but truly living it. I mean, who really cares what it means if it is not displayed? Like anything else in our Christian life, we must get to a point where any particular concept that is vital moves from an academic knowledge to a practical passion that is played out in our lives. What would compassion look like to you if it was passionately pursued in your life?

The Christ-following exercise of compassion is more involved than “giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name”. Sure, this is definitely something we are called to do, and it shows a surface level compassion, but in this instance a person could give this cold water and walk away feeling better about themselves. What if true, deep, compassion caused you to change the way you live our lives? What if our schedule, budget, home-life, convenience, and emotional state were uprooted because of our dedication to compassion? God doesn’t call us to be inconvenienced, does He? I submit, yes. Yes He does. Why? I think He called us to disrupt our comfort because, first and foremost, we are not designed for this world. So, if this is true, then there should always be this divine irritation for the routine of this world (which is defined by suffering, sin, erosion, and decay).

One way I have seen this topic on display lately is through a new ministry created by a good friend and his family. It is called “Infinite Blessings“. This family noticed a need for housing, training, and guidance for several teens and young adults who needed extra support to get back on their feet. This includes people who have graduated from the foster care system and have no place to stay, people who have grown up in difficult family situations, and  young adults who are temporarily homeless and need a roof over their head. Obviously this is implemented with significant implications to home-life, expenses, and changes family dynamics. Despite this, compassion is being displayed and God is being served in the process. These young people come with pasts, things to learn, and infinite possibilities for their future. I think this is a ministry that needs to be more widely known. Click on the link below and give to this ministry to help them along.

Give with compassion. Give to compassion.

click-here

Love you all. Remember you are valued.

-Landon DeCrastos

A Story from the Downturn

I remember a conversation I had with a good friend about 5 years ago concerning the status of his employment. We had decided to meet at a fast food restaurant and simply take time to catch up on each other’s lives. At the time, he was on staff at a rather large church, and our country was at the beginning of the economic downturn. This fact affected the finances of the church.

As we were talking he revealed to me that it looks like he will be losing his job. At this point, it was a position that he had for several years. I was surprised how peaceful he seemed about the prospect of being unemployed. His wife had a job, but didn’t make enough to take on the all the bills. They were going to have to cut back on several line items in order to make it. “We will survive”, he said “God has always been good to us”.

Still, the elephant remained in the room. Why would God allow such a passionate man of God to lose a job that is supporting his family?

Then…this amazingly faithful man of God said something that has affected my life since I heard it. As I was pushing the issue about the obvious concern that this circumstance would induce, he said “you know…God doesn’t owe me a job.” This caught me off guard, because at first I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. “God doesn’t owe me anything….I think that whatever God gives me, for whatever season He gives it to me, it is a tool to use for Him…and only Him. Yes, my family is going to struggle financially, but we are not called to have more than we need but to serve Him.”

Honestly…how can anyone REALLY have this type of attitude? Well, in my experience, when we say yes to God, we are putting the responsibility of provision back into His lap.

God owes us nothing, but He chooses to bless us each at different levels. It is our choice to give everything we have back to Him. We may get no visible reward, but praise God that He uses us.

-Landon DeCrastos

What is Love? (baby don’t hurt me)

“…love is patient, love is kind…” -1 Corinthians 13

I have both officiated and attended several weddings in my lifetime. Almost all of the weddings I have attended have included this verse (including my own). This is a very popular verse that gives inspiration to many, and the tone that it is read in often instills feels of warmth and relaxation. We imagine the author writing with a big grin…with weddings in mind.

When we read the history behind this passage, however, a different intention is revealed. Paul was writing to a church that was experiencing struggles, infighting, and an attack on the message that they have come to know. Rivalry between social class, families, and members of the church had emerged and threatened to destroy the community that God had built.

So, Paul, with this understanding, pleads with this church. He wants them to understand what true love looks like. He wanted them to know that this love that comes from God is patient, kind (infighting), it does not boast (social class)…and deserves more than just lip service. Christ’s death on the cross was meant to convey power…not counterfeit feelings.

Paul realized that these people who called themselves Christians could do everything they were told to do, but if they did not do it with love…then their actions would be worthless and their speech would be just noise (resounding gong or clanging cymbal).

What we say and what we do can help or hurt if depending on whether love is our driving force. This passage is not meant to be lovey-dovey, but a plea of frustration.

The concept of love is not a weak. It is the power that created the universe…and the blood spilled in the war for your soul.

-Landon DeCrastos