Keep Going, Keep the Faith, Keep Pressing Forward

As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I also look at it as a time to reflect on my own personal relationship with Him. As I meditate on this season, I am reminded about how much I continue to suck at being a Christian – and I am not alone. If you continue to read, you will understand. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

Since becoming a Christian, there are some of our faith that will remind me (either verbally or body language) that some of my favorite things are not considered a part of the “Christian circle” and I should destroy them, throw them away or otherwise get rid of them.  I am talking about such things as my music preferences (which includes rock and yep, even some heavy metal), I like beer, and I will read books and watch movies that are secular in nature, amongst other things. [I do like Christian music and I am constantly reading Spirit filled books as well – just FYI]. The thought is that these items will influence my heart and drive me away from Christ – or preclude my walk in some fashion. There are things of the heart and then there are things of the mind – look at the heart and you will see and find a person in love with Jesus. But I suppose there are some that will continue to think, no matter what, that I suck at being a Christian.

But, we then get into the true imperfections of my soul and those things that are valid areas of my personality and character that are a “work in progress”. I talk loud and I talk too much. Depending on who is around me, I will still toss out a little “soldier speak”. I am a large fan of fairness and I am a champion of justice, BUT, I am unfortunately talking about justice and fairness in the eyes of Marcus. I continue to allow the wrong people to push my buttons and I will lash out however it seems appropriate to me at the time. The good news is that this is nowhere near the level it was for me 10 years ago, or even 3 years ago, but it still happens nonetheless. Now this is an area where I continue to suck at being a Christian.  Ironically, after a day like this and an hour of self-criticism and repentance, I will get home and initially relax with a beer and a song or two from Iron Maiden or Metallica [while repenting]. However, I will eventually switch my music choice to worship, reminding me of my salvation and redemption in Christ. I will close out EVERY day, before going to bed, with scripture and a prayer discussion with my Father.  I am always thankful to Him for continuing to correct the flaws of my character, giving me a wonderful family, and taking care of all of my needs – His will for me and not my own. Sounds Christianeeze , right?  Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real. In Happy Joy, Romans 8 further reminds us that there is a solution to the struggle. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

And THEN, we get to the true meat of the Christian challenge – the nature of the WORLD itself. Continuing to behave as a true and faithful man of Christ is very difficult and challenging.  Losing my oldest son in February of 2011 was very close to the final straw for me, almost took me down. Yet, here I am, continuing to profess my love for Christ, sharing Him with anyone and everyone that will listen, and not concerning myself with what others might think of the position I hold near and dear to my heart. Why? Read Romans 8 again. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

We watch our politicians struggle to come together across “The Great Divide” in order to make decisions in areas such as economics, immigration, security, and life choices. We watch as professed Christians condone abortion or tax us in the name of government services. We watch as our national citizenry continue to lose focus on identifying who we are supposed to be as people or who we are as a nation. We watch as Christians publicly condemn people for their life choices instead of remaining compassionate and operating in love for others regardless of their decisions. And we watch as over 2400 Christian denominations argue about their interpretations of Law versus Spirit and right versus wrong. We are taught that the bible is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow – yet some work to change and mold the bible to fit the choices we make as a society in the modern world. If the founding fathers of our great nation were using the same bible 250 years ago as a guide in forming our constitution, then how is it possible that our constitutional processes are wrong and need to change to validate “progress” according to the world today. In this regard, I must suck at being a Christian as my Spiritual beliefs don’t fit the mold of the progressive movement. Nonetheless, while I may not be progressive enough, I still love others no matter what their views and I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. And I Keep Pressing forward. 

We watch as some argue that science is stronger than faith and then watch as the same group says science is wrong in declaring what gender we are at birth – but I suck at being a Christian because I hold an opposing view even while continuing to love those that declare it. We watch as more church leaders are caught in scandals or, even worse, identified as pedophiles. I suck at being a Christian because I am glad that these people are being caught. But I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. I Keep Pressing Forward.

So why, as I suck at being a Christian, do I keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward?

Because there are guys out there that are good, honest Christians. There are guys out there with tattoo’s, who occasionally use “soldier speak” and who like to drink beer.  These are people who exhibit behaviors that would typically get you kicked out of the God Club. Aren’t they living in sin?  Do they suck at being Christians like me?  This is not why I am a Christian, just FYI, that would be a stupid reason.

These same guys love me for who I am and they love people who are hurting and messy. These same guys, tough on the outside, share openly about how they hurt and are repeated failures. They love their wives unconditionally and always speak highly about them. It is the joy I see in their eyes even in the middle of their tears and pain. They absolutely do not pretend to have it all together nor do they claim to have all of the answers – it is ok to simply say “I don’t know”. They Keep Going, They Keep the Faith. They Keep Pressing Forward.

What they do know is contagious, it is infectious – if only you were to listen. They are big, bold, and beautiful and it is fascinating, if you will only pay attention.  They are like me in many ways, we don’t believe that it is simply about believing in Jesus and living a morally correct life to get to heaven. It is much more than that. A life in Christ is not following a simple set of rules to earn God’s favor. If that were true, there are more morally correct people out there who live much more moral lives than Christians. In fact, I would argue that it is very possible that there are more non-Christians helping more people than those sitting in Church on Sundays.

To the dude with tattoo’s, the dude that talks loud or way too much. To the dude that likes to occasionally listen to rock music or drink a beer when he gets home from work. To the dude that occasionally talks like a soldier. We all believe in the same thing – that the cross where Jesus died is a reminder that as good as we try to be, we still need someone to save us from ourselves because at the end of the day, we like to compare ourselves to scoundrels. If Christianity teaches anything, we learn what a train wreck we are and when we see people in this light, we are humbled beyond compare. We might suck at being a Christian but we are real, heart felt, Christ loving men that keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward.

Some religions say: “This world is going to hell. It doesn’t matter. It’s not real, but a shadow, so we wait until we die and escape this. We wait until the next life.” However, Christ teaches that His goal regarding the resurrection is to transform the world. Christ teaches His goal is a new heaven and new earth here on earth. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place, but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we love everyone regardless of their views or choices in life. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves.

The truth is, being politically incorrect, that some Christians happen to be really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even the one’s who are pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental cause they are “nailing it” (although that attitude reveals massive heart issues). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.

This may be surprising to many but the day that I became a Christian is not the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I had not even been attending Church, so I had never confessed to anyone that I was down with this whole confusing Jesus dies on a cross, resurrects, and is God, but God can’t die because he’s eternal…….Instead one day (labor day weekend 2008) I had an experience that was so over powering and so over whelming that I instantaneously knew that I had been wrong my entire life, I had the epiphany that “I’m all in and I guess I’m one of them.” It would be another two weeks before I prayed the confession and started openly identifying as a Christian. I started going, I started in faith, and I started to press forward.

So, Why Am I A Christian?

Because I know I’m a flawed human being. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now. I know there are some church people out there that are good at following the rules but I also know that there are Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love. I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral-silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, he sees opportunity for growth. When I give up, he whispers, “No, you can make it”. This is why, even as I suck at being a Christian, I Keep Going, I Keep the Faith, and I Keep Pressing Forward.

So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people. Maybe then, even millennial’s will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times.

I think maybe then, we might even just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.


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Building a Godly Relationship

Eph 4:1  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Not long after being born again. I had struggles. Even after experiencing a few miracles and awesome displays of love from God, I was still overcome by the world. The instability of my past was slowly being replaced by the stability of the Kingdom of Heaven. Over the years, I struggled to live a life worthy of the calling I had received. The trauma of my past, both received and delivered, haunted me. People strained my edgy temperament. It was really hard for me.

Some of us are impeded from living up to Christ. It may be a troubled childhood, a tough marriage, difficult children, or, having seen too much evil.

To each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it (Eph 4:7)

It doesn’t happen just because we really, really want it or because we can master the will power. Rather, grace means letting the Holy Spirit supply what we need. The Holy Spirit is the gifter needed so that we can participate in His divine nature. Walking in Gods purpose, peace, power. Signs and wonders will follow those that believe.

I was a skeptic, then a seeker, then a believer.  You can lose a lot of things in life and get them back if you keep your confidence. The devil cannot take your calling. God does not change His mind when you lose your way. Since the devil cannot take your calling, he attacks your confidence. If he can take your confidence then he can keep you from functioning in your calling. Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that what you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.

In early 2017, I knew that I needed to work on my relationship with Jesus. I needed to know more about who He is and who I was in Him. When I felt that it was time to invest time into a  structured program, my wife challenged me with answering the question  – why?  She had watched me spend three years on a secular doctorate degree and appreciated the time commitment. As a knowledge seeker, it was paramount that my time be spent getting to know Him and build my relationship. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge was not adequate.

Because I took this seriously, it took me almost three months to sincerely answer this question – why? 

When asked by God to lead His people out of Egypt, Moses initially responded “Who am I to do this….?”.   Since connecting with Jesus, I have often asked myself who am I to be a member of His family, or, convincing myself that I was not worthy.  I have a passionate hunger for spiritual things, I am hungry to commune with God.   I sense a drive to do wonderful things in the name of the Lord but I also felt a shortcoming in my preparation.   I am a person wired to learn more things, yet without a deep relationship with Him I have nothing to apply.  I have been out of balance with expectations.

In February 2017, I was awakened to the reality that “Christian” knowledge by itself can be dangerous without “spiritual” revelation. I have always been fully aware that wisdom is the application of knowledge, but I was neglecting revelation.  I would read the scriptures, but I was still missing it because I was treating it like a book study. It was then that it was revealed to me that I was looking for answers on who I needed to be rather than anticipating who He is.  I then found a teaching where I determined that one cannot get the experience of God simply by study, it must come by the revelation of who He is. This revelation led to a secondary revelation that I need to read and “reflect” on scripture (meditate/ponder), this will in turn lead me to wisdom and “revelation knowledge”.   I simply need to be who I am, God is ok with me.

I am a veteran that thrives on structure, I am also a frequent consumer of knowledge.  I am a vessel and a vessel is what it contains; I contain the gift of the Spirit through Jesus Christ. To balance my Spirit with my soul, I required a program of revelation that is structured and planned. I know how to learn at every level of secular academics, under His guidance, I am expanding this vessel (me) to the revelation knowledge of who I am in Jesus Christ.

My wife challenged me to answer the question “why?”.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, so I will provide what the Holy Ghost has given to me.  Who am I?  I am a vessel for Christ to impart his knowledge to those in need of His word. I am a vessel of wisdom to speak with those that are hard headed and out of balance with who they are in Jesus.  I am a vessel that has plenty of space to increase my own revelation knowledge of who He is.  When the Lord called Samuel, he answered “Here I am!”, but he did not know it was God; this was me. He later answered the Lord, after being guided by Eli “Speak, for Your servant hears.”  Who am I?  I am the Lord’s vessel to impart revelation knowledge on others. Here I am Lord.

Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”


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God’s Approval

Galations 1:10 (NIV) Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

God is calling us to gain His approval, not the approval of people. People will only approve of us when our performance meets their expectations, but once we slip below the minimum line, we are out.  When our performance becomes the standard for other people’s approval, our dignity is reduced to a performance goal or an objective. Most people conform by learning how the system works and give other people what they want: performance.   However, the bible also tells us in Galatians 5:13 that we are to serve one another humbly in love.  I am not trying to please people with my performance, but I am also not to use this “freedom” to indulge lashing out at people or being judgmental. If we work with and help each other, we can humble ourselves by loving our neighbor just as we love ourselves.

Simple obedience is the secret to pleasing God.  Jesus did not die so that you can get away with “whatever” on a regular basis; He died to save your spirit.  The Bible tells us to “Have Faith”, but its not just telling you to have faith, it is telling you to believe in your heart. When you have faith in Christ, the love of God is so real that you feel you could do anything for Jesus.

To believe, you need to experience Jesus more. To experience Jesus more, you will have to become friends with the Holy Spirit.  It is these moments with the Spirit that will change you, not a one line message on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.


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