Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Freedom To Say "Yes"

Have you ever noticed that when we talk about freedom it often includes a desire to learn how to say "No"? So many of us are ruled by feelings of obligation, duty and a general desire to be charitable that we struggle to say "no" when asked to do something beneficial or noble.

Then, somewhere along life's journey, this wonderful thing called "freedom" presents itself and we begin to realize that we no longer have to be bound by these feelings! We don't have to be ruled by guilt, shame and fear. We can actually live a life led by the Spirit of God living inside of us. The next thing we know we are discovering how good it feels to say 'no'. There is a huge sense of relief - of freedom - that we have finally learned how to excercise our free will. Gone are the shackles of slavery and burden.

Today I was having a conversation with my best friend Larry about being led by the Holy Spirit and no longer functioning out of guilt/shame and suddenly it struck me - freedom is more than just the ability to say 'no' - true freedom also gives me the ability to say 'yes' (and an emphatic "YES!") to the things of God.

True freedom does more than simply empower us to close doors, it creates in us the ability to run through the doors of heaven into the deepest desires of our hearts and not feel like if we don't do it again tomorrow that somehow we have failed, given up or no longer make the grade.

So, if today in my freedom, I choose to fast, study my bible and spend the evening worshiping and praying it by no means obligates me to do the same thing again tomorrow, or the next day or ever again! BUT, it also does not mean that I can't do it again tomorrow, and the next day and every day after that for the rest of my life (yes, a very long fast!) and not feel like I have lost my freedom and suddenly become enslaved to these things.

True freedom is the freedom to say 'no' when we want to say 'no', as well as the freedom to say 'yes' as often as we desire!

In freedom I can run after Jesus with all my might, for as long as I desire, and never have to feel the burden of it being religious (even though it may have the appearance of religeon to some). Why? Because He longs for me run after Him. He longs to spend time with me and He never grows tired of me being with Him! I don't have to wait for Him to invite me by His Spirit - in my freedom I can simply choose Him; because the door is always open.

Some might say "I only do what the Spirit tells me to do", but the truth is that the Spirit has already invited us to come and make our home is Jesus. Jesus said we should remain in Him. So we can choose at any moment of any day to run with total abandon into Jesus presence and never have to worry that we are acting outside of the direct will of His Spirit.

It is much like my friend Larry - He doesn't need an invitation to come to my house! He is free to stop by whenever he feels like it. Why? Because the invitation was given many years ago and that invitation still stands. The door is always open.

Do we believe that is also true of our relationship with Jesus? If we knew Jesus was going to be at someones house tonight, do you think that we would sit at home waiting for an invitation to be there?! I think we would show up at the door 2 hours early and play the "I'm with the band" card!

"No. Really! I'm His best friend!!"

I hope today you know this - that there is an open door to the presence of Jesus, and each and every one of us has the freedom to come as much as we desire. He will never turn us away. He will never tell us we've overstayed our welcome. And He won't ever condem our freedom as being religous.

So here's to the pursuit of intimacy with Jesus and the freedom to say a resounding "YES!!!!!" to Him today.

Demos and Diddies mirror site

I have decided to host Demos and Diddies on my personal site instead of my blog site. You are still welcome to come hear and read my writings (which will increase, I promise!) but the musical part of the journal will be at

See You There!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Welcome To A New Adventure

Today launches a new adventure in musical musing. I am embarking on a new journey entitled "Demos & Diddies - The Musical Journal of Jon Loeppky".

So sit back, turn up your speakers and get ready to listen to the raw power of music (or perhaps I should say the power of "raw" music?!)


Were does one start? I suppose the first entry in this new audio adventure should have some credibility and yet not set the standard too high! So let's post a song entitled "Glow". Written in December 2005, this song has lived in perpetual demo state for the past 2 years. The vocal track is still the original scratch track and has yet to be re-recorded.
I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Workers and The Watchers

This past week I was faced with an interesting dilema - I really want to honor the people who serve on our music ministry teams by giving them some time off over the summer, BUT I don't have anyone to cover for them while they are away! So I thought to myself, 'What do I do?'.

Now I realize that it is a very "deep well" that has many issues related to it, but I believe the primary reason for my dilema is the unfortunate truth that in most churches 10% of the people handle 90% of the workload. (I would say our community is blessed in this area, and that we have a much higher percentage rate). These are what I will call the 'workers' and the 'watchers'

These are my thoughts about Workers:

I believe Workers do because they recognize the value of something (ie: leading a small group, or sunday school class) and are willing to 'sacrifice' themselves to ensure that this valued thing doesn't fall by the wayside. They are the ones who ensure the boat stays afloat even if it means they're the only one with a bucket in their hand. I believe most church leaders function in this reality (even if they don't believe it).

Here's the problem - by always making sure the perverbial gap gets filled, the Worker models to the Watcher that it's OK to simply sit back and do nothing! Effectively solidifying the Watchers position as a watcher and the Workers position as a worker. Why would a Watcher suddenly be compelled to become a Worker if all of the work is taken care of by the Workers?

The results are simple, the Workers begin to burn out (and resent the Watchers) while the Watchers end up confused as to why the Workers keep dropping like flies!

I'd like to think that I am comfortable with having a boat or two sink (occasionally) if it means my Workers can receive a well deserved rest. After all, if there's nobody to row your boat there's no point in having one that floats! However, not all Workers buy into that mindset. Sure they promote the idea of giving people a break, but when push comes to shove and the ship starts going down us Lead Workers are often the first people to go to "work". (Once again solidifying themselves as a Worker while others sit around and Watch). I know I've done it on many occasions, and if you've spent more than a week in Church ministry you've don it too!

So how do Lead Wokers help Watchers become Workers? I think it's quite simple:


It's OK to give your Workers a rest, (it's called Sabbath) and if things don't get done rest assured in the truth that The Church will survive! It might not be your church, small c, but Christ's Church will carry on (and that's the one that counts).

The bottom line is this - if you are doing all the work then you haven't understood that we are a Body that requires every part to do it's part by becoming a Worker. It is the only way we can be spiritually healthy (and pleasing to God).

If you need some encouragement in this area I would invite you to study the book of Ephesians and check out Andy Stanley's book "Choosing to Cheat".

2) Introduce "Systematic Controlled Pursecution" (SCP)

Have you ever considered the growth taking place around the persecuted church and concluded that perhaps persecution can be a good thing? Well it is! God designed it to be that way. God designed us to rise up under the hand of oppression and strain. We are by nature overcomers, just as Christ is the ultimate overcomer.

Every good parent understands that consequence is a great motivator! We hate to loose out on something because we dropped the ball. It is one of the primary fruits of maturity, taking responsibility for our actions. People who aren't forced to learn this skill are considered coddled or babies. In North America we have an entire industry built around how to deal with middle aged children who still allow their mothers to do everything for them - and many of these mothers don't see anything harmful in what their doing!

But what happens when you allow a child to suffer for their consequences? They begin to learn. They begin to grow up! Suffering is a form of persecution, and suffering produces perserverence, perserverence that leads to hope!

If we truly want to help our Watchers become Workers we need to understand that introducing Systematic Controlled Persecution (SCP) will help them grow up. (Before you go searching "SCP" on Google I have to tell you that it's not yet a recognized treatment for lethargy or complacency, but I'm working on it!)

So what exactly is SCP? It is the decision, by a Lead Worker, to allow something of value to experience a season of struggle/loss for the purpose of testing it's value to the Watcher.

When a Wathcer experiences a 'loss of service' it produces one of two reations.

1) They won't care that it's gone because it really didn't mean that much to them to begin with. (If this is the case, you have a much deeper heart issue to content with then simple complacency.)


2) They will come to a place of discomfort (or panic) and be compelled to alleviate their discomfort by moving. (Now it should be noted that 'moving' can either mean being moved to action, or simply repositioning themselves in a place where the absent 'service' continues to exist).

In the end it is probably safe to say that burning ourselves out as Workers is by far an easier choice to make then venturing into the land of SCP, but in the end we must choose those things that are going to result in the growth of the Body. And sometimes persecution is the best way to do that.

Now before you go and cancel all of your programs, keep in mind that the heart of SCP is not frustration or revenge, but of genuine love and the well-being of Christ's beloved. It is rooted and grounded in the love of Christ - a love that cares not only for it's own interests but also the interests of others. And that like Christ, we must only do what the Father asks us to do. Obedience is truly better then sacrifice!

Our responsibility as Workers lies in the place of prayer - so that we may know that which we are called to carry for the Lord, and that which we are called to surrender to the Lord.

Happy persecuting!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Can You Find Your Owner's Manual?

The other day a friend called me in a panic. He had lost his remote and was unable to change the channel on his TV. He needed the code for his universal remote but couldn't find his owners manual. He knew that I had the same satellite provider so he was hoping that I could dig mine out and find the code he needed. Well I didn't my owners manual so I fired up the internet and began searching. I looked through pages and pages of information and finally found something that I thought might work. My friend was so happy he was punching in the code while I was still on the phone!. The day had been saved!

That night, as I was recalling the event, I couldn't help but ask myself "Who reads their owners manual anyways?" Not me! I usually put them away as soon as they come out of the box, never to be seen again.

The amazing thing about the owners manual is that it becomes your saving grace the moment you actually need the information contained in it. It could be a warranty agreement, serial number (or in the case of my friend a code that has the power to unleash, or completely nullify, the power of technology) but no matter what you are looking for, our desperation suddenly makes that seemingly useless piece of literature into our best friend in the world! We will read it cover to cover and back again if we have to!

So as I thought about owner's manuals I couldn't help but parallel it to how I read my Bible.

My Bible is very much like an owner's manual! It contains lots of great instructions for achieving 'maximum performance', but unless I read it with an intention of doing what it says it is pretty much useless to me. However, when I come to God's word looking for (and surrendered to) what I will find, it becomes the greatest book ever written! It gets transformed from being a boring technical manual into something full of life and value.

What I began to realize is this - there is this amazing correlation between our desire to find wisdom and our willingness to live wisely.

When we pursue righteousness with a heart set upon obedience, we are able to access the wisdom of heaven. God's spirit enables us to understand the mysteries of heaven, as well as tap into His power for holy living. God reveals these things to us because He knows our desire is to obey. He sees that our heart is one of love for Him, because obedience is love, and so He shows us how we can be pleasing to Him.

But here's the thing - God's word says that we must live up to the revelation we have received. We are accountable for what we know. So if we read the Word and receive revelation, but don't obey, we experience a breakdown. We begin living as enemies of God. (The apostle James talks about this in his letter). But God does not want us to be disobedient, and so, I believe God with-holds revelation from those who are stubborn so that they will not have further judgment added upon them. God sees our hearts and so, in His incredible mercy, closes up the eyes of our understanding to protect us from having further judgment added upon us.

It is not that God does not want to reveal himself to the hard of heart, He is simply guarding us from our own immaturity. He does not want to us to incur more of His wrath.

Conversely, God delights in the hungry obedient heart because He knows that the revelation He gives will lead to a life that is pleasing and honoring to Him. God wants us to win. God wants us to be faithful not only for our own sake, but for His names sake! God wants to call us 'good and faithful servants', and prove that He is mighty to save, and so He reveals himself to those whom He trusts.

Are we trustworthy? Are we hungry with a heart set upon obedience?

Like my friend, who was desperate for information (and very eager to do whatever the manual said!) we must come to God's owners manual, the Bible, with an eager and willing heart. When we do, we will find a wealth of wisdom and power in the Words of God.

If we don't, the owners manual might as well be written in Mandarin!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Raising The White Flag

In war, one only surrenders when it is apparent that the battle can not be won. It is the realization that you have only two options: 1) Lose and Die OR 2)Lose and Live!

When we surrender, we choose to live with our loss, instead of dying because of it. We are powerless to overcome sin and so are destined to lose when up against God's righteousness. And so, surrender is the decision of the powerless to live another day.

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39

Friday, March 16, 2007

Jesus is Sitting Down

Have you ever read the phrase "and he (Jesus) sat down at the right hand of God" and wondered what's so significant about Jesus sitting at the Father's right hand? For years I simply assumed that being on the right had side was the side of honor, but today I came across something that almost made me jump out of my chair.

If you've ever read the book of Leviticus or Numbers you know that the priests in Israel had a lot of sacrifices to make for the peoples sins! To put it simply, these guys were kept busy. But once a year they would have to go into the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins people had unknowingly committed. Only the High Priest could go in, and only after some serious cleansing/preparation. If you want to talk about the fear of death - these guys would have had it big time! One wrong move and they were dead. Say the wrong thing, bring the wrong sacrifice, forget to do step 5 and WHAM! Not cool!!

But this is what it says in Hebrews 10:11-12

"Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties, again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God."

If you're thinking "yeah?.....and?....what's the big deal?" let me re-write it with highlights.

"Day after day every priest STANDS...but when this priest had sacrifice...he SAT DOWN."

Jesus is seated at the right hand of God not only as a place of honor, but because he's got nothing left to do (but reign over the universe!). That's why he said on the cross "It is finished!". There are no more sacrifices left to make, so he can sit down and rest for the rest of eternity!! No priest would have dared sit down in the Holy of Holies, but that's right where Jesus is sitting. He is seated in the presence of God (the Holy of Holies) and that is why the curtain in the temple ripped in two! There was no more limited access to God, no more need for blood to be shed, no more reason to be scared to and of death! JESUS IS SITTING DOWN!

After God created the world he took the next day off. He rested. Jesus is doing exactly what He saw the Father doing, He is resting on the completed work of the cross. Just like you and I do when we have finished a long day at the office or working on the yard, Jesus is resting because ALL of the work is done!

So now, we can boldly approach the throne and simply worship IN God's presence. We don't have to worry about missing step 5 (whatever that may have been?!) and run to God. How unfortunate that many of us choose to remain outside in the surrounding courts of praise, not understanding the magnitude of what happened when that curtain was torn down the middle over 2000 years ago. God is accessible! And if we understand that Jesus is seated beside Him we will understand that to be WITH Jesus, we must enter into that place, the Holiest Place.

It is the throne room of God, were the Father and the Son are seated. The same throne room that John saw in Revelation and Isaiah describes in Isaiah 6. It is a place where we bow down in gratitude for what Jesus was able to complete. That is why they say "Worthy is the Lamb" and that is why they throw down their crowns!

But we must continue to remember that Jesus is sitting down! If we begin to wipe away the cob webs, placing our penance and "good deeds" on this obsolete altar of atonement we commit treason against the One seated on the throne. He has sat down, never to rise to that altar again to perform a sacrifice. So what in heaven's name are we trying to accomplish there?

It is finished! It is over! We are free from the fear of death! We are free from the need to "make up" for our sins. We are free to meet God! Free to love, and be loved, by God. Why? Because Jesus is sitting down!!!

I hope that gives you cause to celebrate! I hope it causes you to run into that Most Holy Place and thank Jesus for His completed work! And perhaps it will allow you to sit down with Him in the presence of our Abba Father and enjoy His never ending rest.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spiritual Potty Training

How long would you allow your child to use diapers without learning how to use the toilet before you stepped in and said "this has gone on long enough!"?

2 years? 5 YEARS? 25 YEARS!!!!?

Why is it that we expect every physical infant to mature, but don't assume that spiritual children should as well?

There are countless books outlining early childhood development - what we should expect by a certain age, when they get teeth, crawl, start talking and just about every other behavior known to humanity! So why do we not expect the same kind of consistent growth from our spiritual children? Are God's designs for growth not universal?

If a student doesn't learn to read, and we simply pass them on to the next grade because we don't want to challenge their lack of growth we are not acting in the best interest of that student (or society).

If a child has not learned how to feed, cloth or bathe themselves by the time they are 25 we should consider that a parenting failure.

And yet, year after year we sit idly by while thousands of spiritual children are allowed to enter into their teens and twenties without any considerable growth in their spiritual maturity. (Many still require pastors and teachers to feed, bathe and cloth them).

I believe we have wrongfully concluded that adults who experience a spiritual rebirth live up to their level of physical maturity. That somehow, a 5 year old and a 45 year old person who both experience rebirth on the same day should have dramatically differing levels of spiritual maturity. We have assumed that the 45 year old will inherently know more about spiritual things then the 5 year old. She will be more disciplined, more able to overcome sin and naturally have mature spiritual practices. (After all, they are mature in every other area of their life!)

The truth is that they have no more experience or knowledge then anyone else - we all must undergo an intense time of learning. Learning to eat spiritual food, clean our lives of spiritual 'germs' and cloth ourselves with things like humility, love, patience and kindness. They must also receive diligent nurture and care from mature spiritual adults who can train them up in the way in which they should go.

In the end we must recognize that our physical maturity has little or no baring on our formative years of spiritual maturity, and if we are to become the people that God created us to be we must take seriously our role of being spiritual parents to newborn followers of Jesus. Followers who will require a lot of love in the form of patience, understanding, training and discipline.