Follow the Cloud

My son’s demanding shout came from the back seat…”TELL ME WHERE WE ARE GOING!!!” In my house, if we are doing something fun for the whole family, we keep it a secret from the children. This is not necessarily so we can have a giant reveal and see the look on their faces, but because of the incessant questions and whining that will inevitably occur from the time they are told our fun location to the time we arrive. My kids, when they know something fun is going to happen, tend to get really impatient.

Often we will tell them when we are in the car on our way to the exciting destination. This particular trip was not really that different. In this particular instance, we decided not to tell them until we were about 30 minutes away, due to the fact that it was going to be a two-hour excursion; which was equivalent to some CIA level torture in the minds of my offspring. As implied above, the little man who thinks he runs my house became irate with the fact that we did not let him in on the secret. So, like any good parent, we yelled back disciplinary threats in hopes the screaming would stop. It didn’t. In fact, he became so upset that he threw out a bluff. He said that he didn’t want to go anymore (with arms folded of course) and wanted to go back home. Of course we rolled our eyes and ignored it. We knew he would be elated when we arrived.

I can’t help but think of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. Over and over again, God had shown his power, faithfulness, and eagerness to accomplish His will through His people, but every time, His people slipped back into their own comfortable habits. In the journey that took place during this time, God gave them specific instructions regarding behavior and when to move after the Tabernacle was built. God would show up regularly in the form of a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, and these forms would fill the holiest place of the Tabernacle. Israel saw the result of His glory. God then instructed the people to get up and move their camp, only when God’s presence left. They were instructed to follow cloud and fire. They never knew when they were leaving, and they never knew where they were going. They just followed.

Despite the miracles and consistent provision God gave His people, they still felt the need to complain regularly. Whether it was food, water, sickness, worship, or legal disputes…they made a full time job out of whining about their circumstances. On more than one occasion, many even threatened to find their way back to Egypt. The only reason cited was the fact that Egypt made a mean cheeseburger (paraphrase) and they missed it. In many other cases, people even fell back into idolatry as if they were chomping at the bit to get back into these old habits.

I can accuse Israel of being selfish, impatient, and ignorant all day, but I have to look into the mirror. We tend to be like 4 year olds who do not know where they are going, when God calls us to follow. That is the temptation, at least. We want to know NOW, and if we are not informed then we begin to look back at our past as a comfortable and controllable existence. Faith is the concept of believing in that which we cannot see. We can accept that cognitively, but it is so hard to act as if it were true.

If we ask God, in honest times of prayer, to guide us we must be ready for uncertainty and discomfort. Also, we must be ready to move when He does instead of complain about our lack of knowledge, resources, abilities, and influence. Just follow.

The world is a dark place. It needs us to follow. It needs us to be uncertain but resolute. It needs us to be all in for Christ. What is stopping us?

-Landon DeCrastos

The Sad Story of Pete

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I present to you
A very sad story
Every word of it is true

The tale I am about to tell
Comes as a surprise
A narrative of a sad little bird
Who, in the end…dies

I may have given the last chapter away
Perhaps you think it ended too fast
Hold on, though, because I assure you
The lesson has not yet passed

Consider this tiny store bought bird
To expound, let’s call him Pete
Wings clipped and caged up
He was a domestic parakeet

Pete could see out of his cage
He admired the owner’s wares
He saw fancy linens displayed around
He admired the wood-carved chairs

There was something he longed to touch
He imagined himself having fun
A bright red ball, inviting him to play
Shiny and glistening in the sun

The temptation took over his mind
So much, that he thought of a plan
One day, he would escape his cage
and take the ball before he ran

The day had come when he chose
To make his final run
He knew he could open his cage
His operation would soon be done

Little did he know his wings grew back
He found out he could soar
But, he so desperately wanted that ball
And now free, even more.

He approached the ball slowly
But had a horrible surprise
The ball was too heavy
To lift it into the skies

So, not wanting to let go
Pete played with his toy
Until the family cat came by
and stole the little bird’s joy

It was fun while it lasted
But temptation took his soul
Little Pete died that day
And ended his lifelong goal

Pete could have flown away
And chosen to be free
Instead he was devoured by the cat
Without a last wish or plea

So when you are caught
Not knowing where to turn
Remember this bird
And the lesson he should have learned.

One day the choice will be in your hands
And the temporal will look so great
Simply choose life over death
Fly to freedom. Don’t take the bait.

– Landon DeCrastos

Do You Want Sin With That?

burgerSometimes there is nothing more convenient that taking a little detour through your local fast food establishment, and picking up a greasy burger. No matter how much of a health nut you are, anyone can admit that the ease of picking up a cheap meat-fix is unrivaled by any other nourishment. Doctors will tell us that these meals are not a part of a recommended diet…and sometimes, when these health professionals tell us this all we hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. In fact I think there have been times when my doctor has explained the dangers of this type of diet and all I could think about was who currently has a promo for a sandwich with a pretzel bun.

Since my family has been eating healthier, this type of eating is more rare, but it still creeps into our regimen from time to time. It really isn’t detrimental if it is extremely rare, and every one knows that moderation is key in this context. No matter how often I tell myself this though, it seems like I fall into old habits and it is just so easy to eat this way regularly. No matter how many times someone tells me that this lifestyle is okay in moderation, the temptation sucks me in. I have realized that I have to be extra careful. The truth is there have been times when I have been addicted to this food. It starts with one meal, then someone else will pay the next day, and then we get home late the next day and that time is supposed to be our last. We then reflect on our month, and it is riddled with cheap meals with little nutritional value. When we are in the moment, there are so many excuses…they seem to make so much sense.

Something else interesting happens… I have found that, when I eat this way, I become more lethargic about my health. It becomes a lower priority, and relaxing moves higher on the list.

When we are involved in sin, we see similar symptoms. Each action seems okay in moderation, but after a while we begin to make excuses for why we are entitled to feel the way we do. We become lethargic about our own transformation because it is too hard. You see, sin is a form of spiritual nourishment…At the time it seems so satisfying and a craving is extinguished for a temporary time, but the more we allow ourselves to be overcome by it, we realize the power it has over us. Our anger, unforgiveness, addictions, or pride seems justified at the time and the easiest thing in the world is to give into it. THEN, as we become more comfortable with this lifestyle of giving into temptation, we become less comfortable with healthy behaviors (i.e. church, fellowship, giving, prayer, etc). If we allow it to win, we then find ourselves feeding bitterness until we transform into a being we were never intended to be.

Stop making excuses and choose health over sin. God loves you too much to allow you to be hypnotized into death.

-Landon DeCrastos