It sounded like a good idea at the time, spending Sunday afternoon putting my Geo Tracker in 4 wheel drive and sending it where no one dared to tread.I should have noticed that the trails were wet and empty, except for a few off-road motorcycles and a handful of pedestrians.Predictably, the last two hours were spent in a muddy rut the size of the Grand Canyon, waiting for a kind soul to pull us out.Philosophically, I told my son afterward, "It could have been worse!"He was not amused.
I recall my pastor saying the only thing different about a grave and a rut are the dimensions.Life has its ruts, and finding them is the easy part.Learning how to dodge them, straddle them or avoid them altogether is the difficult task.But the real danger is getting stuck in them and finding ourselves unable to get out on our own.
The Christian life may be difficult or challenging but it should never become boring.That’s what I love about studying the life and teachings of Jesus.His message was always the same but his life was unpredictable.And it drove the Pharisees crazy!Christians, we need to walk in the Truth that never changes but our lifestyle should exude spontaneity.Let’s get out of those ruts and live in a way that will compel the non-Christian to want what we have.
GospeLines Prayer:"Lord Jesus, when I am near a rut, guide me; when I am in a rut, nudge me out.If I find myself in situations where there are lots of ruts to fall into, steer me to higher ground. I pray in your Holy name, amen and amen."
In a recent sermon by a guest preacher, Rev. Irv White, we were challenged to rethink our position regarding the church.Rev. White brought to life Paul’s message to the Corinthians – the diagnosis of a real problem within the church – those suffering from a disease that can kill the church and individuals themselves.He offered a very simple explanation, we suffer from improper self-estimation.
Rev. White went on to mention that Christians often have high expectations from God; we have our arms open awaiting HIS goodness.But, we miss the fact that God has expectations from us as well.
Church is about the business of doing God’s work, but we act like children.In fact, Rev. White summed it up quite well.We need to “grow up, or stay out of grown folks business!”Instead of focusing on the keys to building the Kingdom, we’re busy arguing over things that really don’t matter, following the wrong crowd and trapped by dogma.If Jesus returned tomorrow, what would he find in our church?Are we serving God?
To grow up, we have to get in and stay in.It requires action.There are several things we need to do to determine our status –
1)Are you alive or dead?Do you have real connectivity to the church, the community, to your neighbors?Are we, the church, performing CPR on the community?The church should resurrect the community.(Proverbs 18:21)
2)Are you expecting the unexpected?If you said yes, you have little faith.If you said no, we should brace ourselves for what God has for each of us.(Hebrews 11:1) And, we must be mindful that it’s not about big fine houses and expensive cars; despite those material things, we may be spiritually poor.
3)Are you expecting the expected?Yes is the correct answer.We can expect –
·God to offer you a way back (as long as you turn away from anything that is not pleasing to HIM)(Micah 7:7-9; 18-20)
·God to bless you with super abundance (John 10:10)
·God will protect your investment
We also must love sacrificially; otherwise we rob God of the ability to bless us.Rev. White gave a prime example about giving.We will gather things that we no longer wear; maybe they are out of style or maybe they don’t fit.We’ll gather those items and take to the Salvation Army and think we’ve really done something.That isn’t true sacrifice in his estimation.True sacrifice is taking the clothes off your back and giving them away.He even suggested we may want to swap paychecks for a week with a single mom and learn to walk in her shoes.That’s what growing up is about.
When your agenda truly aligns with God’s agenda, you discover Agape love which is unselfish.You also learn that the devil’s agenda must surrender.
Another reminder in the sermon was about the size of the congregation.Some people have the misconception that to do big things, you need a lot of parishioners.That’s far from the truth.It’s time to grow up!With God, ALL things are possible.Or as Mark Twain said, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog”
Where are you today?Are you a dead man walking?
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Skateboards were the absolute rage when my oldest son was growing up.Our driveway was the launching ramp for the neighborhood kids.One boy would stand at the street and watch for traffic, while another would race down the length of the driveway, cross the street and hit the ramp at full throttle.If he was lucky he would land on the grass next to the sidewalk without breaking anything.It was difficult for me to watch, but hard not to as well.I would stand and peek out the window as the daredevils flew through the air with glee, hoping and praying for a safe landing (They did the hoping as I prayed).
My son learned a new trick and escorted me outside to watch the traffic while he performed.He whizzed down the runway, hit the ramp hard and missed his landing badly.All I saw was elbows and ankles going in four different directions, and the skateboard sailing toward the neighbor's tree."Wipeout!" he grimaced, as he struggled to pull himself off the concrete.
Recovering from life's wipeouts is something we get better at as we grow older.Know why that is?Two reasons....one, we get lots and lots of practice, and the second is the older we are the closer we grow toward the Lord.(Someone said the third reason is that we learn not to take as many chances.Maybe so.)
Have you noticed that, like the good Father he is, God is always around when we fall off the skateboard, regardless of whether we acted responsibly or foolishly?Our Lord is there for us, peeking through the window of our souls, awaiting an opportunity to pick up the pieces and set us on the right track again.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, if it seems that I love you more when I am pain-free, I confess that I have a problem saying thank you with skinned knees and bloodied elbows.I don't ask for preferential treatment just because I am your child, but I will ask that you hasten my maturity so I CAN say thanks for those painful learning experiences, too."Amen and amen.
Why is it when we try our best to help someone, to give advice or instruction that’s for their own good, they ignore our entreaty and proceed as if we had never spoken?Why do those we love seem to resent our efforts to help them avoid the pitfalls we suffered?Why do people keep going when we’re screaming “Stop!” as loud as we can?
It’s frustrating when we try to help someone and they seem to avoid or ignore our words.Do they not believe us or trust us?Do they think we’re trying to trick them or that we mean them harm?How can we speak; how can we offer to help so that we will be heard?
The most frustrating situation of all occurs when we are trying to help someone come to the Lord - to see that they are lost and in desperate need of a Savior - and they turn away.They may reject us crudely saying something like, “Get away with your Bible thumping - I don’t need any of that foolishness.”Or, they may turn us away gently saying, “Let me think about it for a while.”But, they never follow-up; they never ask Jesus into their hearts.
Sometimes we may be asking a brother or sister to let go of past hurts - to forgive and let Jesus carry all the burdens that are weighing down their heart and soul.Again, they hear; but, they don’t really hear - they don’t respond.
How can someone we love so quickly turn us away when we’re trying with all our heart to help them?Why don’t they listen…?
God loves us with a love so great that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.How must Jesus feel when, after making the ultimate sacrifice for us, we still don’t listen?
Listen to His plea…
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:13-15 - NIV)
Brothers and Sisters - anyone who has ever loved another human being - all we can do is try our best and give the rest to the Lord.As Paul said of the Colossians, we should not stop praying for those we love.We should continually ask God to fill them with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…
Let go of your frustrations and pray; speak God’s Word as best you can, and pray…
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
Last night after Brandon had two seizures, Matt, from his room upstairs texted me while I was downstairs in my room with Brandon.
He simply asked:
"Mom whats wrong with him ?"
That's exactly how he typed it.
It broke my heart.
And as I laid there beside a raspy-breathing Brandon, I wondered what to text back to my sweet son who was supposed to be sleeping, not worrying about his brother's seizures.
This son who in Elementary School, started off one day with the ambulance getting to our house right before the school bus did because his brother broke his collar bone during a seizure.
This son who in Middle School called the ambulance for us while Todd was giving CPR to a not-breathing Brandon after we found him in the back yard, unconscious & blue from a seizure.
This son who while in class in High School, I had to call to come help me get his brother out of the van and into the house because he had a seizure on the way to me driving him to school and I couldn't get him out once I got back home.
Never once during those times did he verbalize what he must have been thinking then, too.
But tonight, he asked the question that I could not answer.
Oh how much easier it was when Matt was little and could only ask questions I knew the answers to!
Oh how much easier it was when Matt was little and the boo-boo's were not too big for band-aids!
…When a scraped knee could be made better with a kiss.
…When broken toys could be glued back together.
…When someone was bullying him and all it took to solve that was a phone-call.
I remember when stitches fixed his cut skin, surgery fixed his severed thumb, and a cast fixed his broken bone.
And I remember a time not a few years after that, when there wasn't such a procedure to fix his first broken heart.
All I could do then was hold him and hug him.
And then the present, last night, and the text message…
"Mom, whats wrong with him ?"
I laid there and thought about how Mom's & Dad's are indeed, supposed to be able to fix anything.
We are supposed to know all the answers to all the "why’s" our children ask us.
But I guess there comes a point when we have to answer the "why's" with the "who's".
I don't know why you have a broken heart; but I know the One who will always love you unconditionally and who will never leave you or forsake you.
I don't know why bad things happen to good people; but I know the One who has a plan for you and who will prosper you and never, ever, hurt you.
I don't know why there are no answers for your brother’s seizures; but I know the One who because of His very sovereignty, is the only answer we need to accept and have faith in for now.
I won't know the answers to the "why's" you will no doubt ask in the future; but I know the One who created you. Who knit you together in your mother's womb, who has searched you and who knows you and your thoughts as well as all the days ordained for you before even one of them came to be.
And I know that because of that, we don't have to always know the answer to what is wrong.
We just have to remain steadfast in knowing that one day all those wrongs will be made right.