A Tribute (Reposted from 3 Years Ago)

papaw

We all have those people who really stand out to us in life. Perhaps it is a sports figure or someone in Hollywood. They may have great integrity and may even market themselves as a role model for younger generations. When we choose to admire these people, we understand that they are human, and they have faults…but there is a part of us that desperately hopes that they are the same in private as they are portrayed in public. It would devastate us to learn of their recent DUI charge or adultery….because in the most recent episode of their show…they showed such great character.

This week, I, along with hundreds of other people, paid tribute to a man who was looked at with such admiration. It was my grandfather, Byron “Barney” Wright. Papaw passed away on Sunday and left a void in all of our lives… The people who wept at his funeral only did so because they were not going to be able to talk to him anymore (for now) or hear him sing or dare to stand in the same room with him as he prayed (I don’t like to watch anyone get beat up, but the devil seemed to come out very bloody in these cases).  His life touched so many that we, as a family, were overwhelmed by the amount of people that came to support us…people of every walk of life, skin color, and age group came to celebrate the life of a man who knew Jesus so well, that joy was always present. These same people lingered for a long time at the celebration to tell stories we had never heard about how they were introduced to Jesus Christ through my papaw.

As I reflected on this tribute, I believe God whispered a convicting and powerful concept into my ear. It is simply this…Our life is only a small part of our life. What do I mean by that? Well, as was the case for my grandpa, it is obvious that a life truly sold out to God is one that naturally pours into others. So, in this case, our life is only the vessel by which other lives can be changed. What an incredible mission to dedicate ourselves to!

There are so many incredible stories that one could tell about his life that, to write them down in blog form, they may break the internet. I can tell you this…he was the same in private as he was in public.

I could write more but I feel that papaw would want me to tell you the most important thing about his life. He would tell you that, 63 years ago, he was the most vulgar sinner…undeserving of any abundance God had for him. Yet, for some reason, God wanted him to help clog the gates of heaven. 63 years ago he asked to God to cleanse him of his sins…

That man could pray.  And if you knew him…you were on his morning prayer list…I think one of the reasons he died was because he fell so in love with God that he couldn’t wait any longer… like a bride and groom anxious for their wedding day.

Papaw…even though you are currently busy celebrating and probably won’t read this….Well done good and faithful servant…well done.

(1 Corinthians 11:1)

-Landon DeCrastos

Mass Marketing

It happens to all
when going for a drive
we get distracted by marketing
Meant to make businesses thrive

They are seen when our eyes wander
when we are not looking ahead
They try to sell us goods
expecting us to believe what we just read.

Some are for public service
warning us to stay on track
to keep our lives together
giving us information we may lack

Others may be rather crude
selling things we dare not buy
for fear of a tarnished reputation
with messages so sly

I am interested in a message of hope
one that will take away my pain
not another gadget
to flush my money down the drain

There was one billboard I heard about
displayed back in ancient times
One that advertised love
through a man paying for his crimes

The odd thing about this ad
was he didn’t do anything wrong
But this marketing piece
seemed to sing a different song

The one on display was called a fake
for the whole world to see
shown on the side of the road
humiliated publicly

I still can’t help but think
there was something good about this guy
The one they called Jesus
With compassion in His eye

I hear he came for joy
and to set the captive free
a billboard painted in blood
a marketing piece meant for me.

-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

6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You

GodtellyouHave you ever tried to talk to a preschool age child (or husband) during their favorite show on TV? The lack of attention can get on your nerves. Okay…I guess you caught it. I am one of those parents who allow my child to watch TV in the morning. Hey, sometimes I am tired and I need my son just to do his own thing for a few minutes while my brain wakes up. I am horrible…I won’t even talk about the fact I don’t buy organic…OH THE AGONY!!! Call the police!

I digress….ANYWAY, have you ever been in a situation in which you have tried to have a serious conversation with someone only to find out more than halfway through that they didn’t hear or understand anything you have said t them. Frustrating huh? Or, like I mentioned above, have you ever been listening to someone talk and their tangents got in the way of the message? This can also be infuriating. Sometimes you just either want to clearly convey your message or you want to be heard.

I think God feels the same way much of the time. There are times when I am certain that He is trying to teach me something, and because of my own pride or reluctance, He can’t get through. Not because He is powerless, but because I am distracted or I have my proverbial “fingers in my ears” and I would rather follow my own way. Well, there are many things the creator of the universe tries to say to us, and we could spend all day discussing them. Today, I want to touch on a few.

Here are 6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You today…I think all are applicable to anyone who believes. 

1. No hurt goes unheard– It is so easy to begin to believe that all our suffering is falling on deaf ears. Sometimes we can pray with such passion and for such a long time that, when we don’t see the answer or relief coming, it seems like God is ignoring our plea. When we are going through these trials, God is right there with us, suffering as well. He definitely has insight into the His own perfect plan, but I can only imagine that the reason He also suffers is because He wants to bring the solution to you right now…He just knows what is perfect. He wants the best for you, and sometimes this means we have to wait. No one likes to see their child in pain…even if we know that the pain will not last forever.

2. Sometimes the answer is not as difficult as you think– When we pray, it is easy to ask that God brings a miracle that will completely change the whole situation. We often wonder how God will resolve the conflict we are facing, and trust that He will, but also concoct complicated answers that we think will solve the problem. Then, we tell God these are the steps that need to be taken to implement the miracle. The answer is often easier than that…and it involves becoming uncomfortable and barreling through to victory.

3. Doing the right thing is always the best thing– This is hard to hear. It is also hard to understand sometimes. Many times, we truly do know what is right, but often it conflicts with what is easy. What is right may hurt feelings, or change lives…but the right thing will always lead to abundance. The wrong thing may feel better in the moment…it may even relieve some pain temporarily. It will never, however, lead you into the fullness of God’s plan. The right thing also will always be in line with God’s word.

4. You will never stray too far– There are people who do not follow God because of their anger, guilt, and shame. These feelings often come from a time of reflection on the person they have become and memories of a sin-filled past. Many think that they have sinned way too much for God to accept them…this is simply not true. God wants to meet you where you are at, and give you His abundant life now. Not after you clean up your act. He is waiting.

5. You will never get too close– If you have ever had a relationship in life that has truly let you down you know exactly what I am talking about. You know, you have loved someone and trusted them deeply and they turned around and used that power against you. Guess what. Your relationship with God is nothing like that, and it will never be that way. You can cultivate a close intimate relationship with Him and expose all of your flaws. He will accept you and use it to grow, stretch, and mold your life. It is about time you let go of the fear of getting close.

6. Wearing a T-shirt doesn’t count– If you really want to know what it means to be a follower of Christ…it has nothing to do with the cool new Christian T-shirt you just bought online. You may think you are telling satan to “shove it” when you wear it around town, but what you are really doing (sometimes) is trying to find a way to display the message without living it. This will not work. God wants you…not your clothing. Inanimate objects can not be spiritually redeemed. They have no soul. Now, when you wear that inspirational t-shirt…remember this…how can you truly be a walking billboard for the creator? Add things like compassion and forgiveness to the mix as well. These will go far. Your t-shirt will doesn’t count when talking about your Christian witness.

God wants to say so much more to us. Don’t let a blog have to be the one to tell you.Open your ears, eyes, and heart. It is time to listen.

-Landon DeCrastos

Grab My Hand (Monday Musings)

monday

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Imagine this scenerio for a moment. A man is walking along the 10th floor of a new office building that is in the middle of construction. The walls are bare and leave a lot to be desired, and the only functional way of going up and down is the few sets of stair cases on either end of the building. This man is going from room to room, imagining what the offices are going to look like, and he is hopeful that everything will come to reality soon.

This man is a business owner and knows that when this building is complete, his company will be housed in this brand new place. The 10th floor. He imagines where the desks will go, the colors that could be on the walls, and even where the outlets will best fit. He goes from room to room and sees such hope in this place. He is so excited about what could be, and what will come to pass.

As this man is walking, he gets distracted by his own daydreaming, and falls into the empty elevator shaft. Luckily, he is able to immediately grab a metal beam in between floors. There he hangs for hours, screaming at the top of his lungs. He wants to be safe again…he wants to be free. He is yelling for help, because he is afraid that he will drop to his doom any minute.

Suddenly, a construction worker on the 9th floor hears his cry. He runs to this poor man’s rescue. He is safe! “Grab my hand”, yells the construction worker. The remedy for this man’s fear and ultimate doom is only an arm’s length away. It is as easy as simply reaching out a hand. But wait…the man who is in danger of losing his life refuses the outstretched hand. “My dreams are on the 10th floor!”, he yells…referring to the business that will soon go into that space and the lifelong dream this man had while building this company. “I promise…I will take you to the 10th floor after I rescue you. Please trust me. Grab my hand!” the construction worker says. The man refused and  fell the rest of the building length to his demise.

This man had a choice…reach out his hand for the rescue being offered, or be so in love with his immediate desires that he loses his own life.

Each day, we have an awesome opportunity to choose life. We can choose to live our own life falling in love with our own goals, or we can choose to reach out and grab the hand of Jesus to give us life and more passion to live every day with our goals backed up by His power.

Grab His hand. Choose to live.

-Landon DeCrastos

Catching My Attention Part 3

getting-attention

Since I have made blogging a regular habit, I have shared with you all in two previous posts some nonprofit organizations that have caught my attentiont. Their missions are trustworthy and their passion is centered in bettering the lives of people while glorifying God. The first post can be seen here.  The second post can be read by clicking here.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a passion for helping organizations to share their message. Many people desire to support a cause but they do not know where to start or which ones to pursue. Feel free to message me at some point and describe your passion and I can probably direct you to a cause that will fit.

Today, I want to share two more organizations that have caught my attention. They are doing incredible things, and I want you to pray about supporting them through giving, praying, and telling people you know about what they are doing.

1. Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries– Silent Blessings is a nonprofit Christian ministry seeking to bring spiritual healing to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people and their families. This incredible ministry is changing the lives in a community demographic that is often untouched by traditional ministries. View their website by clicking here. You can also see videos about their ministry on their website.

2. Renewable Hope, Inc– Renewable Hope shares the love of Christ through partnerships and missions with organizations, churches and individuals to install sustainable environmental resources around the globe. Through wind and solar energy systems Renewable Hope builds water fiiltration systems, local infrastructure projects, and effective leadership training in countries all over the world. Click here to access their website.  RH dos not have online giving yet, so if you are interested in giving to this ministry or learning more please let me know and I will connect you accordingly.

Pray. Give. Support.

The kingdom needs you and God has put passions within you for a reason.

-Landon DeCrastos

Prayer Sticks

First I want to apologize for talking about my son a lot in this blog. If you are reading this and making the inevitable conclusion that this post is about my son as well….you are right. Just humor me…stick with it….it will be over soon. Also, in a related matter…my son rules.

For a few weeks now, we have introduced our son to the concept of prayer sticks. These sticks have the names of various friends, and family written on them. Each night, Josiah will pull a stick out of the jar, and after his story, that is the stick we pray for. We have been praying with him since he was an infant, but he would mostly just listen or look at mommy and daddy shutting their eyes and make funny noises while we prayed.

When he first began to talk, he would say “Amen” when he knew the prayer was over. Several months ago, he asked us if he could pray. Often it would be him bashfully mumbling and we couldn’t understand a word. Within the last week, our son has asked to pray and his prayers have been coherent and actually very profound. I won’t go into the content of the prayers but it seems that God shows up when he prays. Lately, at the end, my wife and I will look at each other with amazement and wonder where he got the idea to pray for these specific areas of need.

Don’t take this as a statement of theological fact, but I almost wonder if God hears these prayers a little louder than most prayers that I pray. Not because God loves anyone more or less, but when prayers are prayed with innocence and sincerity at this level, one can feel an angel walk by.

My point? Teach your kids to pray. Prayer is a powerful weapon when yielded by someone as skilled as a child. Let them loose on the landscape of divine communication and just watch what happens.

Apparently with prayer sticks…..prayer sticks.

-Landon DeCrastos

Spiritual Obesity (Repost)

It happens ever year at Thanksgiving time…I spend time with family and we gather around the feeding trough to prepare for a day of grazing. I may start with the perfectly carved turkey, and move on to the sides that will fit on my plate at the time. By the end of the day, I am making turkey sandwiches that have to be warmed up.

Throughout this exhausting day, I also tend to take the time for a nap on a nearby padded accommodation. At the time, this seems like a good idea. The next day, however, I immerge from my coma lethargic and feeling as if I need to be carried whereever I go. I also find myself getting cranky, and not feeling right. I think this story is true for many people.

Many churches today have this same ailment when dealing with the spiritual condition of their people. Some will sit in the seats each Sunday, and desire to be spiritually fed. They would rather sit in these seats and keep “eating” until they feel lethargic and unwilling to move. A few symptoms of this sickness is apathy regarding the work of the church, and constant criticism. These will both lead to burnout of the Christian. The fact is if believers do nothing to exercise their gifts and what they are being fed, then preaching at a group of stoic Christians that have lost their joy will do no one any good.

When churches become spiritually obese, then you hear phrases like “we need to start worrying about the people here before we start reaching out.” Or, “why do we need this new ministry…we tried it 10 years ago and it failed…” Church…..it is time to get off our rumps and start doing what God has called us to do. We will get more nourishment out of feeding others than we will just sitting in the seats every Sunday.

-Landon DeCrastos