Rescue Me!

​​  “I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles.” – Psalms 34:4‭-‬6 

How many times I have called out to the LORD to rescue me! So many of the plans I have made have ended in disaster – the plans I made. Why is it so difficult to listen to Him in the first place, and heed His answer? Why do we persist in being so stubborn? God created us with a free will to choose for ourselves to love Him and worship Him, and we continually choose the bling of the enemy over the true beauty of the LORD. We let ourselves be blinded by the lurid colors and false delights of the world over the indescribable beauty of our Lord. We choose to believe the enemy’s lies and make our plans without regard to God’s desires. 
  “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” ” – James 4:14‭-‬15 

Over the millenium since God created the heavens and the earth, He has kept His temper remarkably well consider how terribly His creation has mocked Him and reviled Him. When I’m painting or making something, when it doesn’t go my way I want to destroy it – and often have. When training a horse or a dog and they turn on me, I have to watch myself that I don’t hurt them in my anger. That’s just one creature, and God has millions of humans essentially spitting in His face. He has had ample reasons to completely destroy mankind and start over, and He hasn’t, because He loves us with an amazing Love.

  “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” – Psalms 139:14

God created us for one purpose; to have eternal life in His worship and companionship. Rather than wiping out humanity’s existence, He did something incomprehensible to me. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, a part of the Triune God, as a sacrifice for my sins. Jesus was sacrificed for me, and He was sacrificed for you. Had there been just a single human in the entire earth, if I had been the only living soul, He still would have died just for me or you. Incomprehensible Love. 

How do we become one again with our Creator?

  “And this is The Way to have ETERNAL Life—to know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” – John 17:3 

  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34 
When we accept Jesus into our lives, and we acknowledge that He is LORD, we should not longer be worried about the future. That statement is MUCH easier said than that put into practice! Matthew isn’t saying that we should just float along in life believing that God won’t let us starve or let anything bad happen. We are responsible for doing our part. What Matthew is saying is to not worry. Ask God for His guidance in everything, listen for His answer, and follow Him. He always answers prayers, and often I don’t like the answer. Then, when I do my own thing….. 
BOOM!

……. and there’s that disaster I knew was coming. Remember what Paul says:

  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 

AMEN.

(All scriptures are from http://bible.com/116/.NLT)

Ask, Search, Receive 

In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus talks about how we are to live. He says:

    “Do not judge others. Then you will not be judged. You will be judged in the same way you judge others. You will be measured in the same way you measure others.”

And verse 12:

    “In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (From the New International Readers Version of the Bible, or NIRV)

How well do we follow His teaching? I can’t speak for anyone except myself, and I am guilty of being judgmental. I don’t always treat others the way I want to be treated, but I often expect preferential treatment. I’m human, and that means I’m a sinful being. It DOESN’T mean I have to sit back and give control back to the enemy!

  “I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes. One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town! Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you. For you know how often you yourself have cursed others. I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” ** But it didn’t work. Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.” – Ecclesiastes 7:15‭-‬25 NLT (http://bible.com/116/ecc.7.15-25.NLT)

**As my favorite recovery pastor tells it, it was our best thinking – i.e. our “wisdom,” not God’s Wisdom  – that got us here!

My Dad used to say that you could be sincere, but you could be sincerely wrong. He was absolutely right, and it troubles me to see so many people who are preaching and teaching and discipling other gospels than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prosperity – I admit to worshipping at that altar in the past. How about the altar of self-righteousness? Prejudice? Keeping up with the Joneses, or the Corporate ladder? Arrogance? What about the altar of football? On the opposite spectrum,  what about self-pity and self abuse? 

I have skipped over many of our altars, but I could take all day and still not list them all, because as humans we are constantly creating more. Even children and spouses can be altars that cause us to trip.

  “Let God’s curse fall on us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”

***”Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.”***

   “If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous Grace. Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus…..”(Galatians 1:8-10, 15-16a)

By surrendering myself daily (hourly, minute by minute – whatever it takes!) to my Savior; by letting God have control, I do a little bit better at living as He tells me to. It’s interesting, too, that the more I let go, the less stress and judgmental I find myself.

I will always sin. The enemy will throw temptation and disaster and ugliness at me as long as I live. The thought that keeps me sane {okay, those of you who know me well, STOP LAUGHING!} …. the KNOWLEDGE that keeps me going is this verse from Matthew 7:7-8:

    “Ask, and it will be given to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks will receive. He who searches will find. The door will be opened to the one who knocks.”

I have asked; I have searched; and I have knocked, and Jesus answered. AMEN.

Can You Hear It??

​  “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” – Psalms 42:11 NLT

  “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT

Do you hear it? That stillness, and a gentle whisper from the LORD? Just as Elijah and David, we have to slow down and listen to hear what God is telling us. it’s not always what we want to hear, because we think we can plan our futures better than He is able to. We become discouraged when we don’t stay focused on God’s Will, so doesn’t it make sense that we put your hope in the LORD instead of in ourselves and other humans? If your faith is in people, you will always be disappointed. Always.God is the only thing we can believe in and not be disappointed.  

Do You Hear What I Hear 

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy 

Do you hear what I hear? 

Ringing thru the sky, shepherd boy 

Do you hear what I hear?

What do you hear this Christmas season? Do you hear the quiet whisper of God, reminding us of the WHY of this time of celebration, or are your ears so filled with all of the hustle and bustle and noise that your mind feels like mush?

I’d just like this time to be a quiet moment of reflection about why we are doing all of this. Can you hear it?


Mocking = Gossip

​  “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  but whose delight is in the Law of the LORD, and who meditates on His Law day and night.” – Psalm 1:1‭-‬2 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.1.1-2.NIV)

Really? Not fond of this verse, because I like mocking people. Not in public, or to their faces (that would just be cruel – and wrong). I make comments on the way people are dressed (“Seriously? Those are not baseball game shoes!” or “Walmart person! Oh my!) or their makeup or hair (“He needs a good barber!”). Yep, I am seriously flawed….. but then, we already knew that 😆.  

I am a sinner saved by Grace, not for anything I have done or could do, and I will continue to sin despite my best intentions. Unfortunately, that is the human condition. We have some great news, though. Once we have accepted the Gift of eternal Life from Jesus, we can count on this:

  “Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 

  As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

   For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD that is in Christ Jesus our LORD.” 

  – Romans 8:35‭-‬39 NIV (http://bible.com/111/rom.8.35-39.NIV)

I’m convinced; are you? It doesn’t mean that I can go out and do anything I please without any consequences. What it does mean is that I won’t be forsaken by my LORD in spite of my sins….EVER. Nothing can separate me from Him. I will face consequences when I face the Great White Throne Judgment, but I know that Jesus will be next to me as my Advocate, and I will spend eternity with Him instead of the enemy. Hallelujah!

As always, I am interested in hearing about your thoughts and appreciate the time you take to read these.


 

Downcast and Downtrodden 

​  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” – Genesis 4:6‭-‬7 NIV (http://bible.com/111/gen.4.6-7.NIV)‬

Is this you today? Are you downcast, and at the mercy of the sin crouching at your door? I wonder if Cain’s parents had told him and his brother about the Garden; about how breathtakingly beautiful it had been, and why they couldn’t be there anymore. I wonder if perhaps he was a little bitter and envious that they had lived in the perfect place, and because of their sin, he had to work hard working the land to grow his crops. His brother Abel kept flocks, and has difficult as that can be at times, it feels so rewarding to see your labor grow into beautiful animals. Personally, I enjoy gardening and the harvest that comes from it, but having animals… They click within my soul and bring me a joy and peace, much more than my garden. Could that be why Cain was jealous of his brother?

It isn’t a contest. God loves us the same, whether we plant like Adam and Cain, or we care for our herds like Abel, or we nurture and grow our family like Eve. It seems that so many of us spend our lives looking downcast and searching anything around us that we can treat negatively and disdainful. We feel superior to others because they haven’t dealt with the horrible life we have. We are so unfair and judgmental in our thoughts and our words… But what do we know about that person, really? They could have recently received news of a parent or sibling or child dying. Maybe their spouse had an affair , or left unexpectedly; they could have been fired or had a wreck or lost their home through some disaster. Life continues, even when our world is falling apart. No matter what we are facing, 

  “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You. Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the Strength of my heart and my Portion FOREVER.” – Psalm 73:21‭-‬23‭, ‬26 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.73.21-26.NIV)

GOD will never leave us or forsake us – it is us who do the leaving and forsaking, every single time. It’s such a rush, and relief, when we finally get it.

On Mission: excerpts and thoughts 

“But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

“….. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” 

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group….  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” –Acts 6:1‭-‬7 NIV (http://bible.com/111/act.5.39-6.7.NIV)

What does this have to do with us? I’m not a Jew or of Jewish descent, so how does this work in my life and the life of the church today? This passage tells me that life within a church is messy, and it especially points out that it is not the pastor’s job to fix everything.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” – 

 

Ephesians 4:1‭-‬7 NASB (

http://bible.com/100/eph.4.1-7.NASB)

As a Christian, we are each called to do our part. If there is an issue that we recognize, or a thing that we know needs to be done, we don’t need to wait for the church leaders to fix it. As we are the church, we should be taking care of each other. One body, one spirit; multiple pieces. Whatever congregation or name or location, all Christians are parts of the same body. Just as our bodies have many parts and appendages, so does the church. Just as our Lord, we need to be modeling compassion and grace; not judging by appearances. Whether young or old, hipster, cowboy, millennial or baby boomer; homeless or Gaillardia, we are one in Christ Jesus.  

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:8‭-‬12 NIV 

http://acts1.frontlinechurch.com/messiness-of-mission