Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jesus Ain't Scared of your Storm

I'm sitting on a porch in Gulf Shores, AL watching a storm out over the ocean. From my vantage on my screened in's beautiful. Calming, even. Then I think about it would be like to be in the midst of the storm, and suddenly it doesn't seem all that wonderful.

The disciples found themselves in the midst of a storm. A big one, apparently. It was filling their boat and threatening to sink them. To put it lightly, they were in fear of drowning and they were freaking out. What about Jesus? Where was he? He was in the boat...sleeping. He was in the SAME boat, in the midst of the SAME storm, and he was asleep, while the other men were saying their last rites and writing farewell letters to their mommas. Someone finally decided it would be a good idea to let Jesus know they were all about to die, so they went to wake him. "Jesus! Wake up! Don't you know we're all about to drown??" Hahaha...I don't know why that strikes me funny, but it does. I mean, seriously, you're telling Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that he is about to drown at sea. Really? Jesus' reaction is priceless. "Hush! Be still." And the wind obeyed. Just like that. Then he turns to the men, and I can almost guarantee that he was irritated for having been woken up, and he says, "Why are you all such cowards? What are you afraid of? Don't you have ANY faith yet?" The Word doesn't elaborate on this statement. That's all it says. "Don't you yet have any faith?" To what was he referring when he said that? Faith in what? Faith about what? I don't think it was faith in Jesus ability to calm the storm. He was sleeping in the midst of it, if not unaware it was happening, certainly unconcerned. I think what he meant was this, "Why are you afraid our boat is going to sink. Don't you know that I am in it? You are safe in the storm as long as I am in your boat." And just because I think Jesus had a great sense of humor, I believe he probably said, "Duh" at the end.

And all of this brings me to my point...finally. Just because you are in the midst of the storm, doesn't mean Jesus isn't right there with you. If you think that Jesus is unconcerned about the waves, it's probably because he is. He is fully confident that as long as you keep in his boat, you will come through the storm safe and sound and with greater faith than you had going into it. The bible tells us that after Jesus calmed the sea, the disciples were terrified that even the winds obeyed him. Good gosh, men! You are scared when it's windy and you're scared when it's not! Wouldn't you be much better to simply rest in the midst of it, knowing the One who holds you will keep you? Jesus calming the sea is His mercy for us. I'm thankful for those times in my life when he has calmed the seas,and my fears right along with them. But there is a time when we need our faith strenghtened. There is a time when we need our courage to be built. I hope in those times, I will hunker down and ride it out, knowing that if Jesus is in my boat I can't help but come out on the other side.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Greatest Commandment

What kept Abraham waiting 25 years for the promise of his son? What kept David waiting 17 years to become king of Israel? What kept Jesus waiting 33 years to fulfill the new covenant of God? Love. Not ambition. Not determination. Simply love. Love for the one who sent them, who anointed them, who created them. Love.

What holds you? What sustains your walk with the Lord? What keeps you going when life gets too rough and you really just want to quit? If you say anything other than Love, I'm here to tell you, you will not remain! This is not me being harsh, this is me being honest with you! John 14:15 says, "If you LOVE me you will obey me." We don't continue to obey because we are good. We don't continue to obey because we want to be looked upon well. We may start that way, and we may get pretty far in life by being "good", but we won't remain. Eventually something horrible will happen and we'll fall away. Look at Abraham! He got tired of waiting for his promise so he slept with another woman to have a baby. But guess what? He didn't let the guilt of his sin drive him from his destiny because he Loved his God and he trusted in God's love for him! What about David? Goodness, there isn't enough time to talk about all of his trials and his own shortcomings, but he remained! Why? Because he loved his God and trusted in God's love for him! What kept Jesus on the cross when God turned his head and Jesus' heart broke. When he cried out from the depth of his being, "MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOU LEFT ME??" Because he LOVED his father, and he KNEW even when he didn't feel, that his father LOVED him!

Friends, life is not always easy, and sometimes it's almost more than we can bear. YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT GOD NOT ONLY LOVES YOU, BUT FIGHTS OR YOU! HE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT YOU! YOU ARE HIS EVERY THOUGHT, HIS VERY HEARTBEAT! Loving your Creator and trusting in His love for you is the only thing that makes this life worth living. Heartache is going to happen. Disappointments will seep in. You will surprised by life more often than you want. The only way to get to the other side is to Love the Lord enough to stand in the midst of the fire, trusting that He will rescue you. Knowing that he will! Do you love Him that much? Do you trust Him that much?

Tozer talks in his book, The Pursuit of God, of Abraham and the sacrifice God asked him to make of Isaac. Not only his son, but his PROMISE. His destiny. He says that this was Abraham's test. Did he love God more than God's promise? Did he love God more than his son? Did he TRUST IN GOD'S LOVE FOR HIM, that even though he may not have understood, he believed that God only wanted what was best for him? The answer of course, was yes. He did. Tozer goes on to say, "So we will be brought, one by one to that testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us to make--just one and the alternative--but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make."

Abraham was able to make that one choice, not because he was good. Not because he was determined. But because he Loved. Is your love of God and trusting in His for you enough to keep you? Tozer points out that had Abraham failed in this task, God's will still would have been accomplished. He would have found SOMEONE who loved him that much, but "the loss to Abraham would have tragic beyond telling." That is the glorious revelation! God doesn't NEED you...He WANTS you! He doesn't even want you perfect...can we say DAVID? He simply wants your love. Love him and find your life transformed.

"You shall the love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment." ~ Jesus
Matthew 22:38

Friday, March 26, 2010

Not so true Scripture

"God will never put on you more than you can bear." Something we've all heard. Probably something we've all said. Unfortunately, it simply isn't true. I know that flies in the face of most of our theology, but as my pastor pointed out several weeks ago, it is nowhere to be found in the word. What about 1 Corinthians 10:13? It says that you will never be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear. So, what does that mean for us? It means that we will eventually find ourselves at our wits end. What happens after that is up to us.

Tonight, I found myself in that very place. Simply exhausted. I've tried for so long to keep it all together. To be strong. To be an oak. But the wind has been blowing too long and my limbs are starting to crack. I climb into bed after everyone is asleep and whisper, "I'm tired." And He says, "Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest."* "I can't. Everyone will know that I am weak." "When you are weak, then you are made strong. My strength is made PERFECT in your weakness."* "I don't know how, Lord. I've been carrying this for so long." "Be still, and know that I AM God."*

Jesus. So tender. Jesus. So loving. Jesus. So patient. Jesus. So capable. Of course He allows more to come on us than we can bear. If He didn't we would never run into His arms, crying, "Help me, Father." And we would never receive that peace that surpasses all understanding.* That peace that comes not from our spouse, not from our children, not from our paycheck, but that peace that comes right smack dab in the middle of our storm from God on High. It is the Father's greatest joy to comfort us. Breath out your burdens and breath in His rest. Breath out your sorrow and breath in His peace. Breath out your pain and breath in His healing. Breath out your doubt and breath in His faith. Trust Him. He is faithful.

*Matthew 11:28
*2 Corinthians 12:9
*Psalm 46:10
*Philippians 4:7

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I choose you...choose Me.

Matthew 22:1-14. The parable of the wedding feast. It's been on my mind a lot lately. Heavy on my mind and on my heart, if I tell the truth. As I write this I am actually weeping and my soul is burdened. I am faced with this statement: Many are called, but few are chosen. And I am left wondering, am I one of the many, or one of the few? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I just keep hearing the echo in my mind, "few are chosen."

The choice is ours to make. He has already chosen us. He chose us once for all time, but we have to choose Him daily. Some days that choice is difficult, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. What is so difficult about choosing to spend time in the Word? I spend time on facebook. What is so difficult in choosing to spend time in prayer? I spend time texting my friends. What is so difficult about choosing to empty myself at His feet and waiting for Him to fill me up? I will empty myself in this blog, but I will leave it emptier still.

In these short sentences, I think I have found the answer. Fear. Fear of perfection, to be exact. Isn't that what it means to live a godly life? To be called of God? To be found worthy in His sight? To be chosen? Of course not! Do you know what the king did when he was refused, not once, but twice, by those he invited? He sent servants out to round up street folks. But even more amazing than that, and this is where the parable gets really good, he clothed them! He knew that they wouldn't come to the feast dressed respectably, so he provided them with what they needed so that they would be accepted. He didn't expect them to clean themselves up. He did it for them. Well, everyone except for that idiot at the end of the parable who refused....oh wait. I am being that idiot. I am coming to the Kings table with my shame and guilt, thinking my smiling face and clean dress will hide my filthiness. But He's not fooled. He calls us to join Him, but He demands we be clothed in righteousness at His table. His righteousness. His blood. His love. Upon Believing, we are made whole once for all time. But we must KEEP believing this, reminding ourselves that we are "the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus."* Not by our own account, but it is a gift.** Remembering is what keeps us at the table. Keeping at the table is what makes us chosen. always leads back to this one fact....For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.*** Really? It's just that easy? Really.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I so often choose to be an idiot. And thank You for tugging at my heart until I remember You again. I love you, Father.

* Romans 3:22

** Ephesians 2:9

*** John 3:16

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazing Grace

I don't know about you, but I am vastly aware of my shortcomings and my failings. Sometimes I am so acutely aware of this that I am paralyzed by fear. This is what has happened to me the last few weeks. When I began this blog just a month or so ago it was intended to chronicle my journey of going deeper with Jesus. However, very quickly, my brain began to remind me of all the ways I really suck. It's all fun and games until you lay out your private moments and thoughts out there for all the world to read, (or in this case...4 of you). Suddenly you realize that you are not a great spiritual warrior capable of inspiring others to dive into the heart of God. You are only you. And you ain't so hot. So what do you do? I don't know what you do, but I know I did, what I have a tendency to do often. I shut down. Not only do I shut down from sharing my faith with others, but I shut down my communication with God. I am well aware that God sees me, flaws and all, and loves me still. I know this in the core of my being. It's the only thing that keeps me. What I struggle with isn't His vast love for me, but His willingness to use me in any capacity despite those flaws. What I am trying to get to stick in my thick skull is that perception is not always truth. I perceive myself to be blackened with sin. The truth is that I am covered in the blood of Jesus and washed white as snow. I perceive the entire world to look at me, judging, disqualifying me for my lack. The truth is that if God is for me, who can be against me? I perceive that I am alone. The truth is that God is near to the broken hearted. I perceive that God reminds me of my failings. The truth is that He has thrown them as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more.

When we are faced with our own humanity and choose to wallow in our own self pity we need to recognize it for what it is. It is either satan, or ourselves. Both need to be silenced. I'm not saying that we walk around feeling superior and acting as though we are perfect, not in need of a Savior or a change in our lives. I am saying we see our need for Jesus, we grab onto what He has to offer, and we move forward.

Not that I have all ready obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

There it is, in a nutshell. We haven't arrived. We aren't perfect. But we are called. We are redeemed. We are loved. When your own perception wants to drown out the Truth of God, speak His word into it, and watch, as you are transformed all over again. [Romans 12:2]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Patience is a virtue.....that's all.