Sometimes

Sometimes
You just have to say no
To the lies the enemy tries to bind you with…
To the thoughts that invade your mind
Say no to the negative thoughts
That try to steal your joy

When you are on that mountain of blessing
And overcome with bliss
In an instant you can come crashing down
All because of a thought

But you can handle it

It is your job to say no.
Those thoughts won’t win today
And I am stronger than you think I am
Stronger than yesterday
The devil does not know who he is dealing with
The “what ifs” will not be written on my heart today

Those old tricks won’t work
And if worse does come to worst
I will deal with it then
Because in my mountain top times
I have gained enough strength
To deal with the broken things
And to not overwhelm myself

I will endure and not be discouraged
For I know who walks with me
I always remember that
Ok…maybe not always
Maybe just
Sometimes

-Landon DeCrastos

Kicking Goliath’s Butt

Kicking Goliath's Butt

I was in kindergarten. I remember this because it was the first year I was in school with all of the “big kids” at the elementary I attended. If you know me very well, you know that I am very much a peacemaker. I don’t jump into conflict, but if I needed to fight for my family I could unleash my powers for good. In every other situation, however, I am known as a gentle and even-headed human being. When I was a child, however, things were a little different. My brother and I grew up down south and fighting was often a way we greeted our friends. In other situations, it was a result of general horseplay that may have gone too far.

I had a temper when I was in elementary school. I was small for my age and I was picked on frequently, so that helped me develop an anger that could be accessed quickly. I was known for throwing some punches at kids who tried to give me a “wedgie” or even at those picking on someone else. I won’t go into detail about why that bothered me, because that will be for another blog post; but it did. My brother, knowing that I was idiotically fearless would stage fights on the playground, asking larger kids to challenge me to a dual.

Little did these kids know that they were about to battle with a champion…

One morning, I was dropped off to go to school. It was really no different than any other day. This 4th grader (who looked like he had been held back a couple of years) was bullying some kids before school, and it was only a matter of time before I was on his radar. He was about 12 feet tall and had a mullet that wasn’t even fashionable in 1989.  You could see the meanness in his eyes, and that day he was on a warpath. After pushing a kid down I happened to be in the area and he pushed me. I stood up to him, and he start throwing punches immediately. The Hulk in me came out but I couldn’t land many jabs with my wingspan and without a ladder. So, he knocked me down.

One thing you should know about me is that, when it was library day at school, I only checked out two types of books. The first type of book was anything dealing with learning more about animals, and the second were martial arts instruction books. Naturally, I was an expert in many fighting techniques because of this interest.

So, here was this mulleted giant of a human being, about to serve me my first defeat. I realized that the only way I was going to take him out was if I aimed low (don’t worry, this is not ending the way you think it is, so you are safe to keep reading). He threw a punch and I ducked, and swept my foot around to take his legs out from under him. He fell and the earth quaked. I was victorious. When he fell, though, he hit his head on a bench and cried. My heroism triggered a round of applause. Wouldn’t you know that this was the exact moment that Mrs. Mason (the school principal) walked up to witness Goliath being slain? He immediately pointed at me and the story he told sounded a little different than the one I experienced. Luckily, I only got a warning with a finger in my face. Other kids who were bullied by him had spoken the truth, and stood up for me. If it were up to the large boy, however, I would have been tried, convicted, and sentenced.

We are seeing these same type of attacks daily by the enemy who hates our soul. Satan, prowls around looking for trouble to stir up, and when things get out of hand the author of lies can point the finger at the body of Christ as the sole source of blame. He tries to distract us from the truth. It is difficult for the world to believe that God is good when they look at the world and see such turmoil. Their focus is misplaced, however, because we know, as Christ-followers, that every human being has free will and God has sent an answer for suffering if we will only accept it an embrace transformation. So, the enemy will stir up trouble only to point the finger at God when things don’t seem right.

As Christians, we are at war with principalities of the dark. To fight this, we are called to take up arms in the form of love, grace, and mercy. Our goliath could be our self-perception, our doubt, or even our need for growth.  Get angry, and fight.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

This Blog Post Has the Word “Sex” in It

frustratedGreetings!

This is your friendly neighborhood blogging pastor, and I would like to talk to you today about sex. That’s right; sex. You cringed a little bit didn’t you? You are also probably wondering why a pastor would be talking about such madness…Well, I am so you get the benefit of my thoughts today. The reason you slightly cringed when I told you my subject for this post was because you couldn’t imagine things like church and sex being remotely connected. They are. More than you know.

Unless you were some weirdo, there is no way you enjoyed the 5th grade “talk” about the birds and the bees. Guys and girls would be split up for their gender appropriate talks. Guys would learn about their bodies and, girls would have their pillow fights and do make up or something…I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Anyway, my point is, sometimes this subject makes us uncomfortable and it is taboo in mixed company…but why?

Sex has become so uncomfortable to talk about because, for the most part, we have allowed our culture to define what it is. It is an act that is performed by two parties who want the other to love them more and make them feel valuable. Of course I am being sarcastic about this, but it is almost true according to what we see everyday.

Last night, I was watching a TV show and a comment was made that nearly cause my jaw to hit the floor. Long story short, a few girls were talking about the previous night and all of them except one had sex with the man they were dating. The girl who did not was crying, because she didn’t feel loved and appreciated by this man. She also questioned whether this guy liked her at all or not. WHHHAAAAAATTTTTT????????!?!?!?!

Oddly, enough I wanted to cry too. AND, it was for all of the exact reasons why this lady was crying on TV. I was grieving because she did not feel loved. I was in sorrow because she did not feel appreciated. Most of all, I was frustrated because she thought that sex was the way to get these needs met. I guess even part of it was the fact that I have a beautiful daughter and I thought about the world she will grow up in.

Folks, I am no sex expert but I can tell you one thing. Looking at the “dirty deed” in this way leads to destruction. Every human being was created as a valuable vessel for God’s mission. We can either reject that or embrace that purpose. In our culture, we are told that couples have to “try each other out” to see if they are compatible. Do we realize how much that destroys the value that humans were created to have? Looking at sex in this way tells the other person that, in order for you to be loved by me, I must see if you meet my needs wants first. Thus, I am going to use you until I feel better, and when I don’t feel better, I will move on.

This set of thought processes are what leads to dissolving marriages, rape, depression, and even addiction. These are the people I see paraded through my counseling office…the hurt, broked, and used. In pain and jaded abut humanity in general.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? The pain that comes from this type of life breeds more pain…and then trying to cope with this pain on our own hurts others in many cases. Let’s redeem what this subject is all about. Sex was created by God as a way to serve each other and fulfill the ancient mission of multiplication.

Don’t allow the culture to feed you lies.

-Landon DeCrastos

Pillows and Printings

Sometimes I get tired of cliches. These little nuggets of “truth” that people often follow as eternal wisdom. It is hard to avoid them and we see them inside and outside of the Church. Perhaps we will go to a store and see an entire section of keepsakes with these little inspirational phrases embroidered, embossed, or even carved. These phrases are meant to give us a little inspiration to help us get through the day. We have seen picture frames that contain poems, quotes, and even single words that help us to cope. You know what I am talking about.

If you go to very many retail stores your vision is assaulted with little reminders of human suffering and the attempt to alleviate the impact. The problem is sometimes these cliches are untrue. They make us feel better but their universal message falls flat when really put to the test. I see it all the time. People will believe these cliches with all their heart until times are tough or conflict is at its peak…and in this moment it is almost as if they pause their beliefs.

One cliche is the one that says that we choose our own destiny. This is empowering and great to think about, however, what does this say about people who believe this but they also claim they have no choice concerning their addictions or damaging lifestyle?

What about this Christian one…..”God will never give you more that you can handle…” (I have commented on this before). My retort to this is simple. If we rely on God’s power then it is not about ho much WE can handle.

Oh…I love this one..”Believe in your dreams.” This sounds great but would we have wanted to say this to Hitler or Stalin? I think Erwin McManus said it best in his book “Chasing Daylight”. He says, “when you are passionate about God, you can trust your passions.” This defintely looks at this concept differently.

 

“Follow your heart” is also a popular quote that seems to have a lot of value in our culture. It is stitched on pillows, framed on walls, and have been ingrained into many. The Bible tells us that our heart is deceitful and when we think about it often we allow our emotions to irrationally control us. This has led to numerous damaged relationships.

My point? I think God wants us to challenge things like this. Just because it sounds good and gets us through the moment doesn’t mean it is nourishing for the soul. God doesn’t want us just to “survive through this moment”. He wants to fill us with His spirit and give us tools for eternity. Scripture is not meant for short term inspiration….but for transformation of life.

-Landon DeCrastos

Fixing our Welcome

Too often, people inside the church are looked at as people who put on a great front on Sundays. These people may go to work, school, or other places of business and show no signs of faith in the world. To some, faith in God is a hobby that is celebrated and exercised at church. This, at least, it what seems to be the case. This seems logical, but it may be a false assumption for many. Looking deeper into the life of a Christian who behaves in this way may provide a broader explanation about the imbalance of their faith and behavior.

What I have found is that there are many who come to church and love being there because it is the only time during the week in which they can find encouragement, positive attitudes, and a safe place to escape from life. It is a controlled environment where they can be themselves, be taught, and celebrate. They don’t have to be an employee, ex-spouse, or the prey of a creditor…they can just… be. These people come to church with wounds, addictions, hurts, no money, evil self talk (lies that they tell themselves), and the night before they just had a terrible fight with a family member. This person comes to church to be distracted.

What if we as Christians, and regular church attenders, understood this about those participating in worship each week? We have been there. We know there is hope. Our job is to be open to the times in which we can help be a part of this distraction, and to guide people out of their shame and brokenness. We are called to be compassionate, but no one is called to stay broken.

Let’s help lead people away from their hurts, and into healing arms.

-Landon DeCrastos