Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Anxious


This topic has been written about more than nearly any other...this topic of anxiety.  Anxiety is our best indicator that we are not in control of our lives.  Our hearts and minds race with anxiety telling us things are out of control, that the world is inching towards chaos.  Fear and anxiety rage in our culture.  Volumes rise, tempers flare, anger and fear produce conflict.  All of it comes from a deep sense of a world out of my control....a world that isn't safe....and anxiety rises as the fear of our own pain and discomfort increase.

Anxiety causes sleepless night, broken families, angry outbursts, irrational reactions to little things that normally would mean nothing.  

Anxiety says to us, YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL!  

And our fears rise.

If you aren't a Christian you have good reason to be anxious.  There is no one to go to for help.  You are on your own!  That reality causes anxiety beyond words for anyone thinking about all that is spinning out of control around us.

If you are a Christian and still anxious you have forgotten one important truth-  you belong to the God who IS in control of everything and he loves you.  In the night, last night, I had to have this talk with myself as I lay in bed anxious over everything.  (It's amazing how many things you can worry about all at once.)  

This morning, as I'm working through my own anxieties, I got a text from a friend, 

"Be anxious for nothing!"  

That was it.  God working through another believer to deal with my fears and remind me of one of the most important passages dealing with anxiety in the bible.  Here it is,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phil 4:6-7
How did my friend know I needed this?  
He didn't, but God did and his text is a reminder that God is in charge of my life, my needs, my provisions, my days ahead.  
Anxiety is me telling God, "I DON'T TRUST YOU!"  
I know I can't indulge that response.  God has always taken care of us.  He has always provided.  So, like David in Psalms, I have to remember and remind myself of how God has so wonderfully met all our needs all these years.
As David asks several times in Psalms 42 and 43 I must ask,
"Why, my soul, are you downcast?

    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God."

My savior and my God.  The God who made the stars and the galaxies, the God who holds them all together, THAT God will take care of me.

Now, my anxious heart, put your trust in God for I will yet praise him!  


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Witnesses


Do you know who Samuel Seymour was?

I didn't.

I recently saw a clip from the old television show called, "I've got a secret."  It was a show from the 1950's to early 1960's where a panel of celebrities tried to guess the secret of the guest.

Samuel was a guest on this show in 1956.

As the questions unfolded his secret came out.  

As a five year old child Samuel was in Ford Theater on April 14, 1865 and he witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

It was captivating to watch this 90+ year old man tell his eyewitness account of the events.  

He saw it!  He was there!

Some might say that the events of that night never happened, but Samuel would reply, "Oh yes they did!  I was there, I saw them!"

Eyewitness accounts are powerful.  

We depend on them in a court of law.

When I'm told by someone that they saw an event
I listen.  

What did you see?

Eyewitness accounts are our highest authority for history.

As I read a passage in 2 Peter this morning I came to these words,

 "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was  made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." 


Tell me more Peter....don't you want him to keep talking about this?


What did you see? What did you hear? He was an eyewitness!  He saw Jesus Christ glorified! 

He was there.

And he was one of hundreds who saw Jesus, talked to him, witnessed his execution and saw him alive three days later.  

A friend of mine is a pilot and he looks for ways to tell his story.  As a pilot he can't "evangelize" but he can tell his co-workers what happened in his life and he does.  He's an eyewitness of how God has changed his life, how God has shown himself real in his life and marriage.

As I thought about Peter and his own story I wondered how "What's my line" would have been different if Peter was the guest.  Imagine him telling them,  "I really saw Jesus raised from the dead!  It was amazing!"  

The testimony of someone who was an eyewitness changes everything.  It really happened, I saw it!


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Morning prayer

Good morning Father. 

That's how I begin the day as I leave the house each morning and look up at the stars.

Thank you for the day.

And so begins our converstations for the day ahead.  I know I'm fortunate to know God.  So many around me don't even notice him, don't seem to care, but he's my Father.  Each day he provides for us.  Each moment he's thinking about me.  Every hour he's working in my life....even if I can't see what he's doing.

Use me today.  Let my life glorify you as I encounter others.

I honestly don't know when that's happening.  I pray it's true, but I can't see what God is doing in the life of the other person, what they are hearing, what needs they have....and so I pray for God to do what I cannot.

Help me to see what you are doing around me.

I don't see spiritual things well.  Frankly, I'm pretty blind to what is happening in the realms of God around me.  I live in a physical world, a world of flesh and blood, light and dark, love and anger.  I see so little.

Father, in some way, let me be part of your eternal work in the lives of those I encounter.

Everyone I meet....literally everyone is an eternal being making eternal choices even when they think it's all about life here.  The choice to lie has results beyond the moment.  The desires of lust affect more than we know.  I need to remember that eternal souls are all around me....and many of them are dead men walking, blind men stumbling.  I need to remember how broken we all are as we bump into each other.

Lord, today, make me aware of you and the work you want me to be part of.  Help me to see your hand as I walk through the moments, the lives, the encounters of 24 hours that have eternal impact.

Here I am, Lord, use me.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prayer

Have you ever been in a time of prayer with friends and it 

seemed to go on forever? This week, in our staff meeting, 

we finished our time together with prayer but I didn't hear the 

request that I close. We prayed, and then silence, and then 

someone else prayed....it went on forever....finally I looked 

up and asked, "Did I have the "amen?" Several nervously 

laughed, "YES!" and so I said, "AMEN!" and we were done. 

Prayer is such a wonderful and odd thing all at once. We 

know we are called to pray, but there are so many 

questions, so many uncertainties with prayer. It's difficult, but 

we need it badly. We need to pray as much as we need to 

breathe....it gives life to our souls. Lord, help me, as I 

continue to struggle with this wonderful thing called prayer, 

to really communicate with you, to really know you and hear 

you when you speak.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ashes









Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God’s name be ever blessed.
Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.  -Job 1

I spend so much time in my life chasing ashes.  I hate to admit it, but I do.  Advertising is to blame for my desire for this pile of ashes, then that pile of ashes.

It looks like a new computer to you or that dress you love so much.  It might smell like that new car you want so badly or the house you can't wait to own....but it's all ashes.

One day it will all rust, decay or burn up...one day it will all be ashes.

Dr. Henry Brandt said, "The goal of my life is not to get to the end of it and compare my pile of ashes to your pile of ashes."

How do we get so focused on the things that are so worthless?  How do the toys of this world enthrall us so easily?  We skip over the precious things and desire ashes.  What is wrong with us?  How are we so blind that we prefer the things that won't last rather than the eternal things?

We are like children who open all the gifts under the Christmas tree and then play with the boxes.

Around us are eternal precious things and we crave the ash heap.  A sad race, aren't we?  

Lord, help us see what you see.  Help us hunger and thirst for the eternal things, the things that you care about.  And help us to see the ashes of the world for what they really are.  We have been people of the ash for far too long.  Help us to see.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Big enough?

How big is your God?

Most people have a very small God.

It shows in their prayers.  It shows in their fears.

How big is your God?  

Is he big enough for your needs, your problems, your fears?  

Can he help you?  

The prayers you pray are woven into the size of your God.  If you worship a small God then your prayers will be small and you will expect little, but if you worship a big God you will pray boldly, expect much and trust him for the impossible things. 

Here's a picture painted over and over of the God of the Bible. It describes the God men and women prayed to. 

The size of their God shows in the size of their prayers.

Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

My help comes from the LordWho made heaven and earth.

Our help is in the name of the LordWho made heaven and earth.

May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.

Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever;

“O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

“It is I who made the earthand created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host.

For thus says the Lordwho created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lordand there is none else.

When you look up in the night sky and see the stars, the trillions of stars and billions of galaxies, do you realize that's your God who made all of those stars, the God you pray to?

Nothing is too hard for him!

PRAY BIG PRAYERS!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Little things

This afternoon I got a call from a man looking for help.  

He just got out of prison and is trying to get home.  

It's so easy to miss a "God encounter" 

and so easy to experience one.

I went to meet Michael.  That's his name.

He warned me that he's 6'8" and black.

He told me that when he tells people he just got out of prison 

they turn away,

but look what they would miss by never meeting Michael.


"To help people"


A few weeks ago a couple came up to me in church with their young son.  They explained that he had been saving his money to help others, but didn't know how to get it to them.  The parents suggested he give it to the church to help others.  I humbly took his envelop addressed, "TO HELP PEOPLE" and told him I would let him know how it was used to help others.  What a great lesson for us all......to mark an envelope with these words, "TO HELP PEOPLE" and then to do something with it.  May his tribe increase!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pray

In just a few minutes I begin a class on prayer.  I am least qualified to teach this class, but soon it will begin.  As I read about so many prayer warriors, men and women who gave their lives to prayer I feel so inadequate, so unworthy of even talking about the topic at all.  

But, and how wonderful this is, but God hears even my feeble prayers, my desires to speak to him, to ask for help, to seek him.  In prayer we create thin places where creator and creature touch and they are most holy places.

This morning I pray that the great majesty of talking with the creator of the universe comes through and this group of students capture a passion for God.  Lord, let us seek you!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Quiet

Quiet

It's so rare

So hard to find

All around us is noise

Noise to occupy our days

Noise to keep us from thinking

But it's in the silence that I hear God

He doesn't scream at me

He waits

He waits for me to be still

To be quiet

So he can speak

It's in the silence when I hear

the most important sound ever...

the voice of God.