What were the disciples really asking?

The disciples had a simple question for Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. Why didn’t Jesus answer it?

A Message to the Irreparably Broken

a-message-to-the-irreparably-brokenI sat in front of a couple who were so newly married that their rings still lacked any scuff. They were struggling desperately with issues that were not resolved prior to their marriage.

The wife wrestled with insecurities, anger, and disconnectedness. The husband dealt with denial and an inability to relate to his new bride. He felt as if he was being compared to past boyfriends, despised because of his lack of understanding, and he was frustrated because he felt as if something was being hidden from him. Both of these individuals were broken, and at the end of their ropes.

They said things to each other that could not be taken back, and things had escalated to the point of possible divorce.

As a young pastor, these type of situations make me feel so inadequate. It, however is part of my job, and a calling I have accepted. During these type of conversations and tense moments, I have to pray and trust that God will give me the words to say and hope that some amount of educational memories make their way to my tongue as I speak. This situation was one I have dealt with in the past, but every marital difficulty is like a snowflake. None are exactly the same.

As I inwardly prayed for God to guide my thoughts and speech I looked the wife in the eyes. These eyes were red from weeping, and her mascara was ruined. When I looked into her eyes, I saw pain and a little girl hiding behind a rock. If you know me very well, you know that sometimes God gives me the ability to look into the eyes of someone I am talking to and, I feel, God gives me a mental picture to illustrate what they are feeling. Obviously it is impossible to fully know what the pain feels like, but it helps when knowing what to say to start digging deeper into understanding the core issues. This beautiful lady that sat before me was dealing with deep insecurities, fear, and anger and, as I mentioned I saw a little girl hiding behind a rock. As If she was once hurt and was afraid it would happen again.

At that moment, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask her a question. A question that would be very risky, and, if I was completely off base, would embarrass me and damage my credibility as their pastoral counselor. “How old were you?” I inquired. She stopped crying and looked at me as if I had uttered a gibberish language. “What?” she answered. “I said…how old were you. How old were you when it happened?” Her eyes became wide and the tears began to flow. The crying became more and more intense and finally, after a little recovery, she spoke. “I was 15”.

Internally, I was extremely surprised that I hit the wound. Then, I continued. “Who did it?” The tears came again and she told me that her boyfriend at the time was the culprit.

This lovely young woman was raped. This was the root of her pain. It had caused a domino effect of shame and she felt as if she was irreparably broken because of what happened. The husband also had past issues that needed to be addressed. I explained that these past hurts had to be confronted and we set up a plan to move forward to address the situation.

I wish I could say that this marriage was fully restored because of my eloquent words and deep wisdom. It wasn’t. Eventually the couple went separate ways, and after this break up, the healing began. It took a few years for this woman to find healing and a healthy relationship. She allowed God to work through her, and even though the past is not erased, she found that the brokenness in her heart was less painful.

She was right. Her heart was irreparably broken. God, however, gave her a new heart that is whole.

I thank God for speaking to me that day. This is the second time something like this has happened in this context.

If you feel like you are broken beyond repair, remember that God wants you to be whole. There is hope for the broken. I promise. Help is available whether you believe it right now or not.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

Giants fall

How hard do giants fall?
From ivory towers, or empowered calls
At one time they stood so tall
Thinking they were immortal

The firey end that pride brings
When once they acted as kings
Enjoying power and such nice things
Basking in sin’s basic reward

Above the law was their boast
Pleasure to the uttermost
Their passion became their ghost
And left their values behind

What once was their first love
No longer fit like a glove
Their power no longer from above
And their blessing became self made

For them, the way they can restore
That which the enemy broke and tore
Their pride, their soul, what they had before
Must come from the one who knows

The one who knows their very life
Who can pull them out of sinful strife
Who can cut to the heart like a knife
And expose lies with the truth

Flee to the still small voice
Giants who have forgotten how to rejoice
Cleanse your heart with one simple choice
Repent and be restored.

-Landon DeCrastos

A Thief in the Night

lightHave you ever had something stolen from you? It is a unique feeling that only occurs when this event takes place. When I was a youth pastor in Florida, my wife and I lived in an apartment complex only a few miles away from the church.  It was a safe neighborhood, and everyone we met was very friendly.

One morning, we decided to sleep in and get a little extra rest. We had gone to bed late the night before watching a movie, and were in a deep sleep. All of the sudden we were jolted awake by a knock on the door. It was a loud knock. We were not expecting company, and we were still “rockin’ the pj’s”. I rushed out to the front room and looked through the peephole only to see a shiny police badge on the chest of a large buzz cut human being. He looked like he meant business.

“Can I help you?”, I questioned. I assumed he had the wrong apartment, and if this was the case I was poised to be a little cranky because I wanted more sleep. “Are you the owner of a silver Chevy Cobalt?”, he asked. I nodded my head, and he motioned me outside of the apartment. When he took me to our car, I saw a pile of shattered glass. Someone had broken into our car and several other cars. For some reason, this also happened to be the first (and last) time I had ever left my wallet in my car out in the open. Yep…you guessed it. It was stolen.

You may have been in this situation before. We felt so violated, and immediately our minds went to how we were going to respond to this event. We wanted justice. We wanted these people to be caught. We wanted our stuff back. We wanted more sleep! There was also a little part of us that wanted to give up because we didn’t think there was ever going to be a way to recoup the cost of hat was taken. After the dust settled and we figured out logistics, we realized that it was only stuff and we were going to be okay.

As I reflected on this situation I realized that this feeling is what many deal with on a regular basis. Perhaps not in the sense that someone broke into their car and stole a wallet, but often in a much deeper way. Many feel like something has been taken from them. This feeling could come from an abusive past, a damaged relationship, constant disappointment, or the aftermath of addiction. The result can be extremely harmful, because the feeling of violation slowly emerges over time. Due to the speed of its full onset many people become so comfortable with this feeling, but cannot point out why they are miserable, because this becomes normal. They develop unhealthy habits, lifestyles, and patterns of behavior all because their life is now (while they do not admit it) defined by the pain that they have been feeling for such a long time.

We may never fully know the hurt people are dealing with, but we do know where to find the antidote. We all bring a certain amount of pain and experience to the table. We have to approach people with love and grace, and try to understand them before we jump to conclusions. God understands how we think, operate, and respond to the world around us but He wants to free us from unhealthy patterns that only perpetuate this type of life.

As Christians, we are called to help people sort out the logistics of the mess that they are in, and point them to restoration. First, we pray that God will equip us to lead people to freedom. Then, we approach life with a willingness to be used by God in any way He sees fit. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, but a necessary one in order to be used by God to the fullest of our potential. We will not always be thanked for this, because many are in love with their pain, and don’t want to be awaken from their sleep. Scripture shows us our brokenness, and a relationship with God provides the grace for mending. When people are rescued from their darkness, they become a powerful weapon against darkness, because they knew what it felt like to feel alone.

The thief of our soul wants us to stay broken. He wants us to stay violated. His desire is destruction.

Be a change agent. A hope dealer. Spread the light.

-Landon DeCrastos