Monthly Archives: August 2016

Wait to Date

Through my normal cruising of facebook today, I came across an article written by a staff blogger for www.desiringgod.org and found it to be so spot on.  One of my greatest concerns as a parent is how to raise my children to be more in love with Jesus Christ than anything else.  I want them to desire that relationship before all others.  Remembering my teenage years, I know that wasn’t the path that I took.  This article really highlights several good points.  So, I thought I would share it here.

Read: Wait to Date Until You Can Marry

The pebble in my shoe

I know we have all been there.  Especially runners.  This is how it plays out for me:

I look outside and see the sun shining, a gentle breeze, and I begin to mentally prepare for it.  I slide my shoes on and they feel great, maybe even lighter today.  Phone strapped to my arm, ear buds in and comfortable.  A quick stretch or two to loosen up and get the blood flowing.  I step out on the porch and walk quickly – with a lighter step to the end of the driveway.  I look up the street and set my focus, hit start on my tracker and  begin to jog.  My steps feel great.  My core is tight and I am focusing on the first song.  In my playlist it’s a great song by Chris Tomlin called God’s Great Dance Floor.  I round the corner at the bottom of the street and I am feeling great.  It seems like no time and my tracker is proudly announcing the first mile is complete.  “That seemed faster today,” I think to myself.  Then it happens.  A slight discomfort in my right shoe.  Maybe it’s nothing…no there it is again.  Somehow I have picked up a pebble.  It’s rolling under the center of my foot on every stride.  Now my focus is elsewhere.  I don’t hear the music, I am locked in on the pain with each step. My mind begins to battle a little.  I can stop and fix it, quickly and keep going, but I have a great pace and I want to run from beginning to end.  I keep going, but the pebble is still there.  It feels like it is piercing my foot with each stride I take.  I have lost all focus on the world around me and can think of nothing else but that small pebble.

Every person reading this probably thinks the same thing.  Take the shoe off, shake out the pebble and keep running. That’s the logical thing to do.  You’re right.  It is.  But as this happened to me not too long ago, it made me think about my life in general, especially my Christian walk.  How many times have I let a pebble – some sin that keeps burrowing into my soul take my focus off Christ?  How often have I left that sinful pebble in my soul and tried to just deal with it on my own?  This happens more often than not.  My “I can do it myself” mentality takes me down a dark path and before I realize what happened, I can’t find God anywhere in my life.  Wouldn’t it be simpler for me to stop and get rid of the pebble?  Better yet, when that pebble seems more like a boulder, wouldn’t it be easier to rely on God’s ability to remove it from my life?  I was reminded of David when he fell for Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 11 paints a picture of a spiral out of control.  David sinned, first when he looked on this woman while she bathed, then taking her into his bed which resulted in pregnancy.  Reading through the passage, we see David losing all focus on the battle he was leading, and instead being consumed with trying to get out of the mess he had created.  Choose today to check your shoe before you run.  Finding the sinful traps in your life and praying for God’s strength to avoid or overcome them is the recipe for a closer walk with Christ.

Lord, today I am thankful for your love and mercy in my life.  I am thankful that you love your creation and willingly laid down your life so that I could have mine.  Thank you for never leaving me and for your power and strength over my sin nature.  I ask for your help in removing the pebbles that cause my focus to be turned from you.  I rejoice in your word and promise to always be by my side through this life.  In Christ I pray – Amen.

YOU don’t know what I’m doing

We are interesting beings.  We have minds that are capable of vast thinking and problem solving, yet we only use a fraction of our brain power (though that 10% myth has been debunked).  Generally speaking we are capable of so much more than we do.  Why is that?  When you take a few minutes to try and ponder the vast depth and wonder of our created being, you can quickly be overwhelmed.  We are amazingly complex.  Our body is a perfectly harmonized functioning unit, created so specifically that just a minor abnormality or defect in certain systems could “end” us.  When you think of God as the master engineer who merely spoke all of creation into existence, used His own hands to form our bodies and breathed the miraculous breath of life into our soul, it’s hard not to be in awe.  Yet, everyday, we bog down.  Time and time again, we stumble and find ourselves looking at God’s plan, His perfectly interwoven plan, and can only see our small storm.

On one side of this, God hasn’t finished His perfect work in us.  So, maybe it’s not all our fault that we can’t display the courage, strength and faith of Job all the time.  We are human and with fault.   But I believe that God is faithful and will reward our faith with a deeper peace and contentment than we could possibly imagine when we simply trust His ways.

” You do not realize now what I am doing, but later  you will understand.” – John 13:7 (NIV)

I love this passage of scripture.  So many things happening here.  Jesus realizing he has reached the end of his time on earth, the joy of home-going but also the human apprehension of laying down your life.  The disciples  learning what it means to truly give and serve one another as Christ set about washing their feet.  Judas is fully overtaken by the devils grip and ready to betray Christ.  That verse has been used often and in different contexts of life.  Most recently I heard it from a grieving mother as it was a verse that her daughter, who was killed in a car crash, quoted and loved.  It fit the circumstance – we don’t know the plan, but one day we will understand.  It’s that key word that I found myself dwelling on this morning – understand.  One day, I will understand how things fit together and how my life was carefully crafted and molded to be the perfect piece in God’s plan.  I think it’s important that we don’t just leave understanding for tomorrow.  It is true, there are things, that no matter how hard we try, we won’t get.  It’s just beyond us and God knows that.  He provides for us when we don’t think we can go on, or are at the end of our rope in life.  But I think God desires a relationship so close that we begin to understand him.  Imagine being married to your spouse for 30 years yet having no real understanding of how that person thinks, what their plans involve, etc.  I strive daily to learn more about my wife…I fail miserably at it most days, but I don’t stop trying.  I want that closeness so I can share in her and understand her.  I also want that with God.  Remember, we were not created to simply exist as a pawn in God’s world.  He didn’t create us in the same way he did the animals or the trees.  They have their place, and they bring glory to the creator in just the way he intended and have no choice about it.  But God, being full of love, chose to create a companion and friend in us.  It is our blessing to be able to enjoy a relationship and understanding with the creator that is like nothing else.

Lord, today, I thank you that you love me.  I thank you that your love goes to the depth of a personal relationship with me.  Thank you for providing a way through Jesus Christ, that I can have that depth of relationship with you.  Help me, today Lord, see outside the looking glass and grasp and understanding of your bigger picture.  Help my eyes widen and my heart learn to trust you more and more each day.  In your name – Amen.

He’s got the whole world in His hand

He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand…

This song is a classic children’s song that we sing often in Sunday School or in the children’s nursery to convey that God has everything in His hand.  Simple idea, often not thought of again.  But have you every really stopped to think about the meaning behind those words?  I received an online devotion today entitled Holding it Together.  It referenced Colossians 1:16-17, among other scripture, but the idea was that God created it all…EVERYTHING, and that nothing is outside of his grasp, He holds it all together.

 

Look around you and think about how everything that you can see fits together.  Then, if you can, try to wrap your mind around how things that are unseen, are still working in unison and perfect harmony with what you can see.  Our minds are not capable of understanding the depth and breadth of our universe and how it is all held together.  Science has spent hundreds of years trying to explain it and learn about it, yet they can only get so far.  We have been able to dissect the atom, which is a marvelous feat in itself.  Inside this tiny particle are many more parts and pieces and we have names for almost all of them, and we understand how they work and relate to each other, but that is generally where it stops. There is still the “God particle” that has yet to be discovered.  For a believer, we know what that particle is, it is clearly defined in God’s word, Colossians 1:16-17.  At the end of verse 17 – He holds all creation together.  I find it amusing that some will spend their entire life to find that one thing that is right in front of them.  Think of what science could turn it’s attention to if it went like this:

1. We are made up of atoms
2. Inside those atoms are particles
3. God holds those particles together
4. Then end.

That is where my thoughts took off today.  Why is it so hard for someone to rely on the unseen, the unheard, the “beyond understanding”?  It’s faith.  It’s simple faith.  Kids have it.  I don’t know when we lose it as we grow older, but their faith is amazing.  If only we could maintain our child-like faith as we grew older, how much closer to God would we all be and as a result, what would this world look like?

All of this thinking brought my mind back to current events and the uncertainty of the future of our country and this world.  As an adult, these things occupy my mind more and more.  Not so much because I am worried about how it will turn out.  I know the ending.  I read the Bible.  Totally full of spoilers.  But as a parent, with that God-given love for my children, I am consumed with the type of world they are growing up in and the challenges they are and will continue to face.  Sometimes thinking along this line can cause us to panic and stress.  When that happens, I am taken back to this simple verse in Colossians.  “He has the whole world…universe in His hands.  He holds it all together and He will continue to do so until that day when we, that know Him as our personal savior, are called home and He simply “lets go”.

Remember this today.  We do not have to worry about tomorrow. We simply need to place our trust in the God that works all things for His glory.  He loves us.  We were created by His hands in His image.  He is perfect and He created us perfectly.   I have heard before that believing in God and trusting in Jesus to save us is the “easy way out” to give up and quit thinking, become a mindless robot.  As a growing christian, I can say with all certainty that believing and continuing to trust everyday is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am human.  I want to have a sense of control.  It’s natural.  But I love my God, the creator of this universe and everyday He fills me with the gentle peace of knowing He is in control and nothing is beyond Him.

Lord, thank you for being You.  Thank you that You are in control and that You hold this all together.  Thank you for strengthening my faith on a daily basis and for forgiving me when my faith falls away.  I am forever yours and find comfort and hope in Your word.  I am thankful today that “holding all creation” includes me.  Help me to be a light and shine for your glory today.  In Christ – Amen.

Everywhere

When I was younger…much younger, I had a job at a fast food establishment.  It was my first job and I poured myself into it, at first.  I had a bit of a work ethic problem growing up, but that is an entirely different post.  It was during this job that I had an awful experience with being surrounded and overwhelmed by grease.  Now, I know the first thought is “that is to be expected, you were working fast food.” However, this wasn’t just the normal greasiness of fast-food.  In the back of the restaurant we had commercial fryers.  There were three deep wells that held quite a bit of cooking oil.  A nightly procedure was to drain the fryers and clean each well.  It was pretty simple.  There was a reservoir under the counter that was big enough to hold one well at a time.  You pulled a lever, drained the fryer well into the reservoir and proceeded to scrub the empty well.  Then you closed the lever and proceeded to refill the well from the reservoir.  On this particular night we had a very eager new employee that wanted to show he was willing to go above and beyond.  He was striving to show that not only would he do anything, but he would do it quicker than anyone else. His chore: clean the fryer wells.  He had been taught and executed the first well perfectly.  He pulled the lever and the oil began draining.  He then went to the next well, pulled that lever and then the next well.  That’s right, he drained three wells into a reservoir meant to hold ONE!  What happened next was we found the entire back side of the kitchen covered in 1-2 inches of used fryer oil.  It was EVERYWHERE.  That night, we cleaned for at least 4-5 hours to try and contain the spill, remove the residue, and restore the kitchen to its original state.  For weeks we found remnants of oil from one end of the store to the other.  I don’t know that it was every completely contained and cleaned up.

That story came to mind today as I was reading a devotion that focused on God’s omnipresence.  The author recounts the story of Moses and his interaction with God in the burning bush.  Moses wasn’t seeking God to worship Him, or to talk with Him, he was going about his day.  Where God was, I would imagine, was the last thing on Moses’s mind.  For nearly 40 years, his days had been the same, mundane almost.  Had God not showed up in the burning bush, He may not have gotten his attention because he wasn’t being sought after.  The point is that we need to recognize that God is everywhere.  He is everywhere at one time, always.  This attribute, when understood, will produce in us a constant worship.  Just like the oil finding its way into every nook and cranny of that building, so should God be able to have access and be in every part of my being.  When I focus on God and find Him in all the details of my life, I will be more likely to remember who He is and how He deserves my constant worship; not because of what He has done for me today, but simply because HE IS.

Lord, thank you for how You are always there.  You never leave me.  Just as the Psalmist said, “where can I go that you are not there?”  The answer is nowhere.  I pray that I will keep my heart open throughout the day and focused on You.  I pray that your spirit will encourage me in all areas of my life today.   Thank you for How you love me and I pray that I give you the reverence and worship that you deserve.  – Amen.

Reading Today: Psalm 139:7-12