Thursday, June 22, 2017

Identity


I knew this was coming.  It always does in our lives.  We all struggle with it in one way or another.....who are we?  How do we identify ourselves? Is it what we do?  Where we live? Who we know? Where we've been?

"Who am I?" is a critical question when life changes.  If we don't have that clear, if we haven't established an identity apart from our circumstance then we are in for a crisis.  

I'm in the midst of looking once more at "who am I?"  It means going back to basics, staring once more at what God says about me and not what I do.  

Recently I asked a young man who was struggling with a problem in his life these two questions, I told him that his answers to these questions would define who he is and how he will live.  Now I find I am revisiting my questions to him.  Here they are:

1. Who are you?
and,
2. Whose are you?

I often say to others, "God's not as interested in what you do as he is in who you are...because who you are will determine what you do."  

Now to revisit my own advice to others....


Monday, June 19, 2017

Do you know he sees you?


"You haven’t laughed your best laugh,
you haven’t dreamed your best dream,
you haven’t danced your best dance,
you haven’t sung your best song.
If you’ll shake off the disappointment
and get your passion back,
then God has an "after this" for you."

I got this note about a month ago from a man in Pakistan whom I have never talked to before.  It's so interesting to see how God speaks to us through the words of others.

This morning I got a note from a dear friend of more than 40 years and she said,

"Good morning, Mike.
The Lord laid you on my heart the last few days.
I pray all is well.
Just know your heavenly Father
loves you with an everlasting love
that will only take you where
He has already gone before.
Blessings to you."

It constantly amazes me how this wonderful God, who seems so busy running the Universe, is willing to stoop down, see me and show me he loves me. His kindness and mercy are more than we could even know.

One of my dear Psalms is 138.  In that short chapter are these words,

"For though the Lord is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly"

Do you know that he sees you?  He loves you and will reach out to you in many ways and voices.  He will say to you, "I see you, I love you, I love to show you how much I care."

Now I can't tell you all that I'm in the midst of.  It doesn't matter for these words. We all go through difficult days in our lives, but when we are most stretched, strained and fearful God is always so kind to reach out to you and say, "I see you.  Do you know I love you?"

You will hear it...if you will be still and listen.

"He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters." Ps. 18:16


Friday, June 09, 2017

Focus!


Have you ever walked on water?  
No?
Neither have I,
but
there was one man who walked on water
as easily as we walk across the yard.

This morning I want to focus on a second man
who walked on water as well.

He was just like me- fearful, doubting, uncertain,
but one day he asked a bold question
and here it is,

"Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”"

His name was Peter and he walked on water!  
Other than Jesus he was the only man to ever do this miraculous thing.  In the middle of the story I see Peter getting distracted and when that happened he took his eyes off of Jesus and fear came.

Our lives today are miracles of walking on water and we aren't even aware of it.  We trust God, who we have never seen, and his Son, who we have never seen either, for an eternity with him in a place he is preparing, again...no one has seen that either!  

Faith is trusting the faithful word of another for something we don't see or experience now, but believe we will one day simply because that person said it was true.

Peter got distracted and began to sink, he "saw the wind" and became afraid.  Why was he afraid of the wind? He was already doing something impossible. What could the wind do to him? 

But he lost focus...
...he took his eyes off of Jesus...
and when we do that fear comes.

At the end of the story Jesus asked Peter (and us) this amazing question- "Why did you doubt?"

It seems an obvious question but I know I would have answered, "Are you kidding me Lord?  Don't you know what we were doing is impossible??"

And that's the very point of faith...it's a focused trust in an invisible God for miraculous things we have yet to see...and we are staking our eternity on his words.

The only way to do this is to keep our focus on him.  When we get distracted from our focus on Christ fear comes, doubts arise, temptations increase...
...and we begin to sink.

Don't you know that what we are doing is impossible? This living by faith thing makes no sense at all....except for the fact that it's all true.

Jesus really is God making it possible for us to do the impossible and walk by faith, hand in hand, with an amazing, loving God.




Wednesday, June 07, 2017

What's next?


What's next?  I'm at one of those moments when I actually have to ask myself that question.  I'm in the middle...between "now" and the unknown.  In the middle, as we leap from what has been to the unknown of what will be, we all experience a bit of fear, panic, uncertainty.  It's part of the excitement of being in the middle between now and then.  

But what is certain is this:  We serve a wonderful living God who oversees the events of our lives.  Each step, each moment, each stumble...he is there.  And, in the middle, between what we have had and what we will be, he is there too.  He is a God of that gap, a God who is near, holding our hands, walking with us as we leap into the unknown.

What's next?  I have no idea, but I have a big God holding my hand as I find out.  Isn't that exciting?


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A draught of kindness


We are living in a time in history unlike any I have ever known. We are living in a time when there is a draught of kindness.  

As I watch the news and read the morning headlines I see anger, harshness and cruelty. It seems we have become, as C.S. Lewis described it, "Men without chests."  We have lost our identity as a part of humanity, we have lost all heart and kindness for others and now we see the results.

We are now seeing what happens when we take God out of our lives and culture.  The outcome?  Men have become animals devouring one another with words, anger and weapons if possible.  We have lost our humanity and with it we have lost the essential ingredient of civility- kindness.

Somehow our culture assumed they could ignore God and suffer none of the consequences of such a decision, but when you remove God from a life you remove all that God is- love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness....ETC!  And what we end up with are animals walking on two feet fighting, biting and devouring one another.

What did we expect? Did we think we could ignore God and suffer none of the withdrawl that would go with it?  

Without God we lose the one thing that makes us different from the animals- our humanity!  Now that we have lost what makes us uniques God has turned us over to the outcome.  

Much like a good zombie movie we have become cruel, mindless and abusive with only one goal- devour one another.  It seems the zombie apocolypse has happened, but not as we imagined. 

But God invites us to a different story, a different outcome when he says, 

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

What we are missing today is the "just as..." part of this passage from Ephesians.  When we dismiss God we also dismiss all he has done and we lose the model, the example of how we should live with each other....we lose the example of Jesus.  And now we see it....a culture without God and all the side effects that go with it.  

Only in Christ will we discover our humanity again, only as we follow him do we live as he designed us.  In a time when there is a draught of kindness imagine what your kindness will taste like to someone dying from thirst for it. 

We dare not look like the world around us.  Instead we are called to a higher place when Paul wrote these amazing words, and in these words is the cure for the draught around you as you go through your day,

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

And how can we finish without a word from Solomon?  I will close with his words,

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart."

(For further study  on this topic read Jesus' words in Luke 6:27-38)



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

He's on your side!


"Do not be afraid, for I am with you."
-God, Isaiah 43:5

Do  you realize the "why" is often more important than the "what?"

Why would I worry about money IF I have millions in the bank?

Why wouldn't I enjoy life IF I knew everything would work out?

The why of things makes the what easy!  If my "why" has enough substance then my "what" will be much easier.

And so, God gives us this simple what:

"Do not be afraid"

It's a big what really!  Imagine someone saying that to you in the midst of a tornado.  Don't be afraid? 

Are you crazy? Do you see the storm around us?  

But what if the "why" made their "what" perfectly reasonable?  What if...after you tell me something like that....your reason I can do that makes me reply, "Ohhhh, of course, I can do that!"

Why shouldn't I be afraid?  BECAUSE GOD (you know...the one who made everything...the one who is in control of everything....the only God who can do anything...you know..that one)...because God is with you.

If you have that "why" then the "what" is really pretty small, isn't it?

As my dear mom reminds me when we talk, "Don't forget, God is on your side, he's for you!" 

Now, relax, enjoy your day.  There's an amazing God ruling and reigning....don't worry.


Monday, May 22, 2017

The BIG question

There are verses in the Bible that trouble us. 

They were meant to give us pause and make us think.

They were meant to make us ask questions.

Here is one of them,


Revelation 20:15 Anyone whose name 
was not found written in the book of life 
was thrown into the lake of fire.

Our culture will scream in protest at this verse.  It's a very serious verse!  It is meant to sober us, to make us think, to make us aware of a bigger reality.

I can imagine the protests and questions as I write this, "How could God be so unfair?"  "I've lived a good life, why isn't that good enough?"  or "I don't even believe in God, what right does he have to judge me?"

The questions flow as I think about a response from the world I live in, but there is only one question that we should be asking, one question that puts this all in perspective-

How do I get my name in that book?

That is the BIG question we each must ask.  And it means we must deal with a God who says there is only one way to get your name written in the book of life, only one path that gets you to the goal.  In a world full of religions God tells us you must come my way, you can't get here any other way.

As a Christian I'm considered narrow minded, simple, ignorant, politically incorrect and a dozen other adjectives that culture would throw at me, but IF there is a God in heaven doesn't he get to make the rules?  And, honestly, there is a God who made everything, rules everything and tells us he has written a book....

so I come back to this key question, this most important question, How do I get my name in that book?

That's the BIG question.




Monday, May 15, 2017

Just thinking

Here are a couple things I've been thinking about this week.  I'll add more as they happen.

"Everyone believes in absolutes. You can dismiss them if you wish and do as you please, but absolutes have consequences and you can't dismiss those quite so easily."

"Most people's lives are like a ship at sea without a rudder. They are moving through life well enough but have no idea where they are going or why and when they find themselves broken on the rocks of a distant shore they blame God instead of the real culprit- themselves."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Change


Whether you like it or not things will change.
Your life will change,
your job will change,
you will change.

It's part of life.

Change is ahead, are you ready?

Will you embrace it or run from it?

Will you look forward to the adventure
or fear something new?

Every new day is a step towards
something different,
something new,
something unknown.

Every day change is happening...
whether you like it or not.

Do you look forward to it
or
dread it?

That one question will tell you a lot about
your view of "today."

Don't hold onto today too tightly,
soon it will pass
and
tomorrow will come...
and it will be something new!

Isn't that exciting?


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Tears



Tears

They speak of pain
hurt
loss
grief

They speak of brokeness
They tell you
as they wet your face
that things are not as they should be

They are the tears of woundedness
of wrong done
of loss suffered
of pain ongoing
of lonliness haunting

They tell me things are not as they should be
Not as they are supposed to be
They tell me something is wrong
a heart is broken
and the tears remind me...
THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE!

But

One day
Perhaps today
Tears will be no more

Can you imagine the implications of that?
Can you imagine what that says 
about the days ahead?

One day

Every tear and the reasons for them
will be done away

One day tears will be a distant memory
because
the reasons they came
will never haunt us again!

One day...

Perhaps today





Monday, May 01, 2017

It's Monday!

It's Monday morning, I can't believe how quickly things are moving.  I haven't written anything of substance in weeks.  It appears my pen is dry as is my mind.  I loved the days of rich thoughts flowing, but now I'm trying to simply navigate a day.  Strange how the cycles of life go.  Up one day, down for the next month.  It's part of how life goes.  I do look forward to the days of rich content, but I need to celebrate these dry days and really listen as God speaks.  Even in the desert God works.  Even when you think nothing is happening it is!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quote of the day

Quote of the day from an old friend-
“I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts, when suddenly I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe. I have since moved from the agony of questions that I cannot answer to the reality of answers that I cannot escape, and it's a wonderful relief.”  ― Tom Skinner

Speak Lord....


"Speak Lord, your servant is listening." -Samuel the prophet

These should be our first words to God each day as well. 


An availability, 
an identity, 
a role to play, 
a master to serve. 

What else do you need?