Friday, September 18, 2009
We live on Liberty Rd. and this is where it all collides for me. I try to keep my worldly things looking like I have it all together. I worry that our house is perfect with nice lawn, landscaping, garden, barn with animals and pasture, successful business with organized shop and beautiful furniture, toys for kids to play on, and so on. I struggle each day to make all of those items stay in check. On the other side of the battle is the spiritual realm of my life where I focus on Christ and working for him. I try to use my talents teaching teens at church, going on mission trips, leading worship at church, singing special music, leading a small group of young adults and being available for others to listen and help in times of need. Then I hear God's voice saying "Do you hear me, where do I fit in? I know that these are all good things are they the best? So much "doing" distracts from listening. Can you just relax and love me? Take time to just listen and allow me to love you". The past few weeks I have allowed my wants and desires to overshadow and distract me from Christ's fulfilling love.
God, thanks for slowing me down enough to listen. I am sorry that I have chosen my way of doing things and not yours for the past few weeks! My heart is to love you and be living a life that is not based on the world's view of success but of yours. There will always be this battle while we live here on earth of the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives. I am learning that the more I lean on Him, a peace that passes all understanding enters my life. I can look at my daily life through spiritual glasses and discern what is truly important. Am I able to this with ease? Not always, but God patiently works with me each day as a loving Papa would do with his children.
Where are you struggling today? What can you give to God? Take time to just sit and listen today. God is waiting to show you if you only take the time to stop and listen. I know that I am not the only one doing this juggling act. I would love to hear from anyone reading this on how they have worked through this daily struggle.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I had so quickly turned an inspirational exercise into a depressing and all consuming attitude of "I don't have all the things that I want." As I write this, the words ungrateful and selfish come to mind very rapidly. My ungrateful heart condition was diagnosed lovingly by my wife who shared that I should look around at what I do have and take those things in praise to God. It is tough being knocked down to my knees, but that is the only perspective I need, to be looking up.
Over the past few days I have watched a family grieve the loss of their husband, father, brother, friend, mentor, coach, teacher, and co-worker. As I reflect on the celebration of his life, I thought about who I am and the "wants" that I have placed in my life right now. Gods has written new ones on my heart. It is now up to me whether or not I follow through with them. My new list contains some of the following:
To be a man of God on both the inside and outside equally
To invest time in my family
To invest time in the lives of people around me
To not worry about my task list each day, but instead use God's timing as a standard.
To practice contentment apart from the world's definitions.
To love my wife wholly and honorably
To thirst for truth and sharing it lovingly and honestly with others
To use the talents that I've been entrusted with to show others His love.
To be a man that will be remembered for living a life pointing to something greater than himself
The list may seem daunting and lofty, but I know only one thing for sure, "With Christ All Things are Possible". One day at a time and one decision at a time is all I can do, but He is the one that can shape and me into this list of "I wants" because I believe they are in line with what He wants for me and for you. What are you in want of today? Is it worth the sacrifice of yourself or His Sacrifice?
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Everything has a different look. I examine my life more closely and ask a myriad of questions. Do Ireally need more clothes, a new vehicle, a bigger house? Is it necessary to go out to eat as much as I do? Can my money be spent more frugally in order to give more to those who need the basics of life? Is there a place that I can apply these acts of service inmy own hometown? So many things have changed in my outlook on life that it can be overwhelming to the people around us me, as well as my own self.
A song came to mind that speaks volumes about how the world views us as Christ followers. The song is by Mercy Me and is called “Crazy”. I encourage you to listen to it through this link and allow the words to penetrate you heart.
The overall message of the song is "Why would I spent my life doing everything that is opposite of what the world thinks is normal. We long for the day our life ends here, we point our lives towards another man instead of ourselves, we live our lives in the trust and care of another man, and we blindly give our life to promises of unseen things. This is a big pill for the world of self-sufficiency to swallow. It goes against all that is taught to us by our culture. This is where the spiritual and worldly clash draws swords. Our flesh longs for many of these earthly things because it gives up immediate, temporary relief from the pain in this world. As Christ-followers, we are called to suffer through these earthly hunger pangs and allow the One to fill us with His inner strength that is eternal. It outlasts any of the cheap thrills that the world can offer. By grasping onto true fulfillment many of struggles and trials of this life can be traversed with an eternal perspective.
This has been demonstrated to me so vividly in the past month with a close family friend who is battling cancer and the odds are against him right now. He is in a place that I can't comprehend. Knowing that death could come at anytime, but knowing that God is more present in his life than one could understand. From the outside it seems sad that a man like this has to suffer and leave a family and community that so dearly loves him. People of the world would ask why would a man like this have to suffer instead of one who is less influential and loved by so many? When we look through eternal eyes, it becomes a bit more clear. We ask why not? How many have seen and experienced his true love and commitment to the One who saved his soul. He is having an outstanding impact on hundreds and maybe even thousands of people by how he is embracing this fight by allowing Jesus to continue leading his life. I am a changed person by seeing his love and strength in the face of adversity. He truly loves living but is more taken by living loved by the Jesus. Thank you Mr. Rick for your influence in the life of me and my family. We are selfishly praying for a miracle but know that Our Savior is totally in control at all times of those who love Him! Your life is a true picture of how to live in the will of the Father.
As the song says so boldly "It would be crazy to choose this world over eternity!" What are you crazy for today?............If it is not eternity then I challenge you to look again. You can call me crazy, but I choose to live a life marked by His will, not the world's.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Part of success means waiting on God. His plans are greater than my desires. This can be very hard to hold onto when the things in your life are stacked up against you. People around you may be moving faster in a direction of worldly success, your life may feel like it is in a backsliding roller coaster, or maybe spiritually you are waging warfare between who you were before and who you are in Christ now. Satan likes to drag up past failures in order to crush your self worth and security in God.
Patience and perseverence are not two of my strongest attributes. Especially lately! I can be downright selfish and impatient when I let myself fall into that trap. When I start to let my guard down, conjure up reasons for entitlement, and have spiritual amnesia, someone is waiting at my door to help memove down a path that is not in God's plan. That someone is Satan, yes the great deceiver prowls around like a lion waiting to strike at just the right moment. I have learned that when stress, anxiety and tiredness are in my life, nighttime becomes a time of temptation. How do I combat these worldly desires that Satan so cunningly plants around me? The only line of defense is the light..... Light always triumphs over darkness period. Even the smallest candle produces light in a darkened room. God's words ring true in my heart as light. His promises will always defeat Satan's lies. Courageous friends who surround me with heartfelt encouragement girds up my defenses as well. God has placed a great cloud of witnesses around me to strengthen and sharpen me.
What lies are you believing today? It is easy to fall for the traps set for us each day. I will be the first to say that I am not perfect and I make mistakes each day. The promise of grace is comforting at the end of the day when I am making amends with Him. It is not that I sin because of grace, but I am thankful that as a flawed human it exists in spite of me. Thanks for picking me up when I am weak and restoring me to you Jesus. In our travels called life, it is good to have his flashlight to illuminate our path.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Can I step out of my comfort zone, can I look beyond my little world of my business, family, and home, open my ears to something eternal. there is always another side the coin of life. God wants to show us so much that can enrich, affect, and improve our perception of who he is and how He loves this world. He wants to use us for His purposes. I was reminded that my little old self has a definite purpose in His plan. My life is an act of worship to glorify Him. Whether I am in Ohio or Mexico He wants me to follow and fulfill others by His strength and Love.
I have been journaling all week and seeing Him move in marvelous ways here. I intend to share some stories of redemption and restoration in the coming posts. As He promised, He will reveal more to us when we continue to step out of the boat and trust Him. Where are you in your belief and trust of the One who desires to live in an intimate friendship with you forever? Jesus is calling through the mess that you might be in or coming out of. If you feel alone, you are not. He is right there calling your name. Will you listen and reach for Him?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
For the past week the song "Oxygen" by Building 429 has resonated in my heart and mind. It talks about how we separate ourselves by sin and believing the lies put before us each day, but there is a God there to reach out and bring us back to life. He is our life giving oxygen. Even in the tossing of life we can hold onto him and he won't let go. That is where I found hope, in the darkness and depths of my own sin I was gasping and grasping for life. It was like I was slowly drowning. God pulled me out of the water and breathed new life into my collapsed lungs and fractured heart.
John 5:21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life whom he is pleased to give it."
My hope in future posts is to share my story of where I made poor choices and the effects is had on my life, my family, and my marriage. My prayer is not talk about me but to share how great God's unconditional love is for us. He is waiting with life giving oxygen. All we have to do is take a deep breath. God wants to give life and purpose to his creations.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Each day is a walk closer to the end of our lives. Christ is our guide, but we have the ultimate decision on how, where, and why we walk. I recently was listening to a pod cast where for several weeks they had been answering live text messaged questions from the members. After several weeks of answering a myriad of questions, the minister began his current message by admonishing sternly his congregation for the type of questions they were asking. He explained that every question dealt with how close to the line of sin they could legalistically approach. “How far is too far?”, “Can we do this and be ok?”, “When do I need to stop doing this?” and the list went on? The minister then told them that they were nothing but selfish in nature. All the questions dealt with how close to sin can we go until it is not acceptable? Instead we should be asking how close can we get to God?
As I pondered this question I began to reflect on my own life and relationships. How close to God am I? How close to sin do I try to get before I turn around. Are there areas in my life that I walk the ledge?
Then I felt God speaking to me (not audibly), but through my own thoughts, saying by walking this ledge you are hurting our relationship. I want more from you than you are giving right now. Furthermore, you are hurting your other relationships by putting yourself that close to sin. How can you truly show others what I am like if you are only giving it a half-hearted attempt? I gave my only Son for your life and you can only serve me by occasionally having a drink, telling a few coarse jokes, looking only a little at suggestive images, and the list goes on. Talk about a punch in the gut! By living this life of mediocrity God is slowly being soiled to the point that we and others can’t even recognize who he is anymore. At what point do we get to a place where God doesn’t recognize us anymore? When will he get tired of our constant blatant sin and turn us over to our evil desires? (Romans “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves”.) Those questions scare me and frankly I don’t want to test that line, because when we find that answer it means I am in a place that I never intended to find myself.
I am learning daily that I would rather try to find how close can I become to God's intended purpose? Where can I improve my relationship with him? Is it through prayer, serving others, my speech, what I view on a daily basis, my own personal thought life, or whatever. You can fill the blank with your own struggles? God wants more from his creation than what we, as a culture, are offering to him today. The most reassuring thing is that he offers unconditional love. We have rejected, despised, disappointed him, but he still loves you and me. There is no earthly reason that we should not fall into his arms of grace and strive to serve him wholly. Not partially, half-heartedly, but totally and completely. He does not promise that it will be easy, but he does promise life with him eternally. Think about it and step back from the ledge.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Hebrews Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God speaks to each of us in a way that will cause our heart to listen. Music and lyrics is a way that God speaks to me. Whether it is through a time of trial or season of contentment I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in many songs that I am allowed to really listen to and reflect. Artists sing these songs for many reasons, but God who is good, uses them for his children for a myriad of purposes. One such song came to me as I was running the other morning. As I exercise my body, I enjoy listening to music and reflecting. (It takes my mind of the pain that my body is crying out to stop) The song that resonated in my heart that morning was by the group 33 Miles called “My Offering”
How many times in your life have to said or felt that you could not approach God or even pray a simple prayer because you felt guilt, shame or inadequacy due to the sins in your life. Or could it be the person you are having a conversation with about Christ and they make the comment ” I need to get some things straightened up in my life before I can go to God” How sad and misguided have we become that we forget that God wants the broken and battered to restore. As a culture of have it my way, be all you can be, get it done ourself, we have cried for our independence. God who loves us gave us that independence even though he knew we would make decisions that would hurt and scar him in order to bring us back. What does he want from us though?
The song contains a message that we betrayed, lied, ran away, cursed his name, and were to blame. On the flip side God forgave, spoke truth, stayed, called me child, went to trial and ultimately died to give us more than we could ever find. He wants to take every part of us as an offering to him wholly and only. On our own we make a mess of things, but he transforms it into his offering because is comes from his creation. Sounds strange, but God can only make good out of all circumstances.
I know in my life I have made plenty of messes and when repentance is sought, God transforms my messes into beautiful paintings that only he can create. We can’t fully understand the process because it is heavenly, but that is where faith is required to trust Him unconditionally. Once you can do this you can gain confidence and strength in a God who loves you beyond measure.
What are you holding onto or what excuses are you using to keep you from fully coming to God? He wants all you, which includes the messes that you have made, but can’t fix. He can fix them if you only take them to you as your offering. Approach with humble confidence and be amazed at his grace!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I know in my life sin has caused many wounds not only to myself, but to the people around me as well. I have lied, cheated, stolen, cursed, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes it was a little paper cut of gossip, but at other times it was the sweeping swing of the sword that cut deep into the heart. How do these wounds get healed? Our bodies weren't made to repair and restore wounds of this magnitude. Why didn't our Creator design us to heal emotional scars? I don't know the answer to why, but I do know the answer of who. Who can heal these blemishes and lacerations of emotions and character? God
In Psalm 147 he says "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up there wounds" . God is the only source of healing our emotional wounds. We can look to other places to find comfort and healing. This world offers drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, and religions. All these seem to help for a short while, but never have lasting and sustainable results. The drugs wear off, early morning hangovers, sexually transmitted diseases, broken marriages and false hopes are the only guaranteed results of the worlds answers.
The only one true answer is a life of surrender to the our creator and life giving God. He promises to heal and restore what is broken and lost. Sounds easy and simple? Yes and no, it is easy to say yes to him with words, but can you say it with your life? Can you turn over all your thoughts, words, and actions to him on a daily basis? For me it was not easy, but so beneficial. It can be an hour by hour process or day by day. All he wants is you to make the first step toward him.........