“Staying on Track”

On – Staying on Track

 

“I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words … guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” ( 2 Timothy 1:12-14)

 

In this part of scripture, Paul was concerned about the spiritual condition of Timothy.

He knew Timothy could drift into error in many different ways.

 

Throughout the Bible, it teaches us that a central way to stay on track… is to be confident about one’s beliefs.

 

Paul demonstrated this confidence in his own life, declaring that he knew “whom I have believed.”

He knew that Jesus would guard him.

Paul urged Timothy to have the same level of confidence.

 

So…

How was he to do this?

 

He reminded Timothy that he had been given a “pattern of sound words.”

This pattern applied to every part of his life… his thoughts and actions… his decisions… his relationships… and his travels.

This pattern was given “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v. 13).

 

Timothy needed to have a relationship with Jesus.

And his actions needed to be inspired by faith and love, not just a sense of duty or obligation.

 

Further, Paul reminded him of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwelt within Timothy, and He also “dwells within us” (v. 14).

The Holy Spirit can “guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

Timothy needed to be sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

Hear this clearly…

This pattern applies to all of us.

Make sure that you are confident about what you believe.

Know whom you have believed.

Develop your relationship with Jesus, and stay sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

Heavenly Father, help us daily to follow the patterns in Your Word and be confident in our relationship with You.

Guide us Lord…

In Jesus’ most Holy Name… Amen.

 

Draw close, He is O’ so near.

 



Wondering About the Future?

Are you wondering about the future?

As you read or listen to the news, are you concerned about the future… what it will look like?

 

Please remember…

Please take to heart…

There is One Who really… really… truthfully knows… And it’s not all the talking faces of mankind.
 

Hear this clearly…

The Bible reminds us that all human ideas, concepts and forecasts have limits, for we all “see things imperfectly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But God is different.

Only He can tell us “the future before it even happens.”

Everything He plans “will come to pass” (Isaiah 46:10) because He is God!

 

Please…

Make sure you trust in Him.

Please…

Let His Word shape and guide your thoughts and beliefs.

 

And as you navigate these troubling times, take to heart and mind that, indeed He really knows the future.

For… “I am the Lord … Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.” (Isaiah 42:8-9)

 

Furthermore He loves you…

He cares about you…

And He even seeks you when you run from Him or wander about in search of truth, not knowing where and in whom to find it.

 

Draw Close, He is Near

 

 



Whew – the 1st Half of 2020 is behind us… So, how about the rest of 2020

Whew – the 1st Half of 2020 is behind us…
So, how about the rest of 2020.

What a 1st six months of a year…

2020 began as 1973 did, with impeachment.
Then it became like 1918, with the pandemic.
Next, it took on the financial shape of 2008 with a recession.
And, followed by looking like 1968 with civil rights protests.
Like most of you, I remember all but the 1918 global pandemic.

And… there was so much more..
Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash along with seven others.
Wildfires swept Australia.
Locusts swarmed East Africa.
Earthquakes struck Turkey and the Caribbean.
I’m sure each of you can name some more.

So…
Here we are…
It’s the 1st of July!
Yep, the year is officially only half over.

Then yesterday, we heard Dr. Anthony Fauci tell a Senate committee that he is very concerned about the surge of coronavirus infections in many parts of the US… stating that he would “not be surprised if we go up to one hundred thousand cases a day if this does not turn around.”

If that was not a sobering enough warning, news agencies broke the story of a new flu virus (G4) in China having the potential to become a “pandemic flu virus.”
I’m not really sure why this suddenly became newsworthy, since it has been known in infectious disease monitoring circles since 2016, but they released this information: “Chinese researchers discovered a strain of influenza in pigs that has all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus.” “Pig farm workers showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood. As a result, “close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented (Published in paper by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
If there is any good news in the report – the scientists say there is no evidence that the virus is circulating among humans.
But, the bad news is that the World Health Organization made the same statement about COVID-19 last January.

So… Here we are… July 1, 2020

I sense that one lesson the first half of 2020 has taught us is that we cannot predict the second half of 2020.

Consider this – Hum… we are not in control of our world.

It is tempting in our “scientifically advanced, technologically sophisticated” culture to think we can control our natural world, but natural diseases and disasters point out the folly in such suppositions.

It is likewise tempting in our “existentialist culture” to predict the future based on the present, but recent months prove how also flawed that suppositions… and how uncertain our lives really are.

So…
How might this relate to Christians seeking godly character…
it’s called sanctification.

Jesus prayed for his followers: “Sanctify them in the truth” (John 17:17).
Paul similarly prayed for the Thessalonian Christians: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
He told the Corinthians that despite their former sins, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described the way sanctification works: “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ his kind of thought and life . . . into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

Please understand that as sinners, we cannot sanctify ourselves.
Just as we required Jesus’ atoning love for our salvation, so we require his Spirit’s transformation for our sanctification.
We cannot make ourselves more holy, no matter how hard we try.

However… our obedience is nonetheless essential to the process.
Not to earn God’s sanctifying grace, but to receive it.
When we pray, read Scripture, and obey God’s word and follow his will, we position ourselves to be made holy by our Holy Lord.

So…
Today, let’s choose to make praying for holiness a regular, consistent commitment and discipline.
God can give only what we will receive and lead only where we will go.
If we do not ask Him to make us holy, He cannot make us holy.

A prayer I encourage you to make your own

Some time ago when he was among us Henri Nouwen, a Dutch theologian, offered this prayer:

“O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you? You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through you, everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion.

“Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you? Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

“Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let me die to the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.”

“I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.”

So…
As we travel this road of the remainder of 2020…
How will you traverse it?
Who will walk with you?
Who will guide you?
Who will comfort you when perplexing situations occur?
Who…

I pray you will engage daily with me in prayer that the Holy Spirit will be the “Who”…
Draw Close He is O’ so Near



“Dispelling Anxiety in Covid Times”

Dispelling Anxiety in Covid Times

 

Indeed, we live in anxious times.

 

So…

What do you do with your anxieties in the coronavirus pandemic?

How are you dealing with the fear of catching COVID-19?

Maybe you and your family members… maybe friends… maybe those of the front lines providing needed services in the face of Covid… Maybe even a fear that our nation may not survive these times…

 

Yes, there are many causes for anxiety…

For, these are real dangers and they seem to be everywhere… On our news feeds and in our conversations: sickness, not having enough food, financial losses, social isolation, being quarantined or constrained, family conflicts, cancelled or changed events, not being able to work or work full-time –  what often seems like a grim future.

 

Unfortunately, many people looking for help from Bible promises or even turning to Christian leaders get the idea they should not feel afraid: “Just have faith… Believe God’s promises… Be strong… Focus on loving others”… not effectively or properly linking God’s Word to real… now… trying situations.

These messages are often caused by laziness – simply recycling old messages or even suggest a casual understanding of God’s Word which crept into a once vibrant ministry.

Often, they can even shame people for having emotions and weakness.

And they may create discouragement rather than faith in God.

 

Hear this clearly…

 

Faith is trust.

To trust God (or anyone) includes being emotionally honest and vulnerably asking for what you… what those you come in contact with… your flock… actually need and are contending with.

 

Real faith is cultivated by having and being willing to express real emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, discouragement, sadness and unbridled gracious to God and to people.

Remember to ask for God-centered empathy and then, maybe in time you will be able to return to true peace, joy, confidence, and love for others.

 

When you’re emotionally wobbly and receive empathy it grounds you so you can stand up again… and again… and again.

It clears your heart and mind to absorb the comfort, wisdom, and strength of God’s Word.

 

So, let’s build or rebuild or re-energize proper, God centered… Scriptural – Faith… Let’s stand up… engage the real world and apply with rifle-shot accuracy… guided by His Spirit… His Word… His Truth… His Heart.

 

These Bible promises are helping me….

These Bible promises help encourage a healthy faith in God which fosters non-anxious living and courageous love for others.

I sense that these Scriptures may be especially encouraging in this time of the coronavirus.

 

Jesus is Calm in the Storm (Then he Calms the Storm and his Disciples) “Then [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping” (Matthew 8:23-24).

 

When You’re Stressed and Tired Jesus Offers Rest for Your Soul “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

Ask Jesus’ Father to Receive Good Gifts

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you… your Father in heaven [will] give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11).

 

God Cares for Your Emotions

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me… I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed…” (Psalm 55:4-5, 16-18).

 

God Takes Your Hand to Comfort Your Fears and Help You “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God… For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:9-10, 13).

 

Fear Melts Away When You Hear God’s Love Song for You “Never again will you fear any harm… The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:15, 17).

 

God’s Love Through One Another Calms Fear “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:11, 18).

 

Empathy Engages us with God’s Spirit of Power, Love, and Self-Discipline “To Timothy, my dear son… Recalling your tears, I long to see you… I am reminded of your sincere faith… For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:2, 4-5, 7).

 

God’s Grace Helps You Accept Your Weakness and Become Strong “Three times I [Paul] pleaded with the Lord to take [the thorn in my flesh] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ …That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

 

Trouble, Hardship, and Death Don’t Separate us From Christ’s Love “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? …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” (Romans 8:31-32, 35-37).

 

Be Still to Take Refuge in God in Trouble “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… He makes wars cease… He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:1-2, 9-11).

 

Rest in the Lord’s Beauty and Strength to be Safe “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? … Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling” (Psalm 27:1, 3-5).

 

God’s Mighty Hand Protects and Cares for You “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

 

Jesus is Our Healer

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35).

 

The Word of the Lord Ministers Healing

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave” (Psalm 107:19-20).

 

Be not anxious… He is with you…

Draw Close, He is Near

Praise Him!=



Three Truths on Father’s Day

3 Truths on Father’s Day

 

Father’s day is upon us… so let’s consider a gift which is endless… First, let’s consider the playing field…

 

We have an enemy, and it’s not those people we disagree with or who believe differently than we do.

It’s not people on the other side of the political spectrum.

 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. (Ephesians  6:12)

 

Our enemy is oh so much worse.

He is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

He pummels us with lies over the entire course of our lives.

He pummels the men in your life again and again telling them who to be and what to do, what is real and what is right.

His false messages are insidious because they don’t sound so bad… at first, at least.

 

But, of course, if we believe them, if we follow his lies, they surely debilitate us… Keeping us unsure of ourselves… Causing us to be satisfied with merely surviving… Making us tired… Making us feel underutilized and isolated.

And, eventually, these lies lead us to our deaths.

 

So, here we are.

In a upside-down, severely messed up world… A world screaming for redemption, A with a vicious enemy and O’ so many earthly agents of the evil one… So… here we are… in a world telling us that the odds stacked against us… In a world one can some days feel that it is impossible for us to ever live the way our God designed us to live.

 

Yep, on the surface… things can look grim.

 

But..

Stop…

Look Up…

Listen carefully…

These are lies… they are not the Truth…

 

Why?

Because opposite of all those lies is something much greater… It is the Truth of God… It is the Truth of Jesus Christ.

It is the Truth of His Spirt that Lives in us.

 

And, furthermore…

We are designed to be agents of His Truth… encouraging one another, telling the people in our lives the Truth we see in them, helping them to stand strong in the face of all this deception and malice… Yes… to shine the Light of Jesus Christ into the mixed up, dark world.

 

So…

This father’s day…

As a unique and powerful gift, consider three things you can tell your husband… your dad… all the dads God has placed in your life…

 

Remind him that he Is Never Alone

 

Jesus promises he is with us wherever we go—when we’re home, when we’re at work, in tough circumstances, in every difficult call, every difficult meeting. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Remind him of this.

But tell him that you are with him too.

For your husband… remind him of your wedding vows—to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Remind him that you are a team, that you are with him in every victory and every failure, every joy and every struggle.

 

Remind him that he Is Loved, No Matter What

 

Hear this clearly… we are each precious sons and daughters of an outrageously loving Father God.

God’s love for each of us burns bright and true.

It will never dim.

Not ever.

Not even a little. If you were to plot his love on a graph, the line would be high and flat.

It wouldn’t fluctuate over time; it would never swing in response to our good actions—or even our worst. He doesn’t love us more because of the things we’ve accomplished or acquired in life.

Remind your him of this.

But remind him too that you love him for who he is—the love of your life—not for what he does and what he brings home.

 

Remind him that even in these trying times that you are Not Worried

 

For husbands… for dads, granddads, for all caring men… it sometimes feels like worrying is just a part of being a man.

So often, they worry about the bad things that might happen—to them, to us, to loved ones.

So, they, like each of us, strategize and plan about how to get out in front of all those things.

And as we know, and the Word tells us… all that worrying can hang over our lives.

It can haunt our thoughts and steal important moments—moments that should be joy-filled.

 

But, hear this clearly…

Jesus teaches us that we don’t need to worry.

 

For he didn’t come so that we’d live lives haunted by fear.

He came and died to set us free from such things (Gal. 5:1).

He assures us that our Father God will take care of us, whether we worry or not (Matt. 6:26).

 

So, this day…

Remind your husband… your dad… or other father figure which God has placed in your life … of this, as well.

But even more, tell him that you are not worried.

Tell him you trust God.

And tell him that you trust him too.

Encourage him.

Tell him you believe in him.

Tell him that you know it’s all going to be okay, somehow.

Most importantly…

Tell him that you pray for him regularly… (And do it !!! )

 

Maybe even…

Write your version of all these messages on a card.

 

Or, perhaps better still, tell him with your own words, looking directly into his eyes.

 

However you do it, surprise your husband… your dad… your God sent earthly father with these uncommon, right-side-up gifts on Father’s Day.

 

Draw Close, He is Near=



On – Knowing Him

On – Knowing Him

 

“…  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:9-11)

 

Focus – “I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death “ (Phil 3:10)

 

Paul says he is quite ready to give up the usual status symbols of the Christian for the personal knowledge and friendship of Jesus Christ.

Please understand that he is speaking of this as an academic subject.

Indeed, this is not a course in Christology or on the person of Christ.

This is not knowing about Christ.

This is knowing Him.

As has wisely been said… knowing about has value; knowing has vitality.

This knowledge the apostle is talking about is not simply a casual contact now and then.

You and I don’t get to really know our friends that way.

The friends we know best are the ones we have spent the most time with, or have gone with through deep experiences.

This knowledge of Christ comes the by continual sharing of experiences together.

It comes as – two… Jesus and you… Jesus and me… living our lives together, moment-by-moment sharing experiences.

It comes by gazing on the face of Jesus Christ as he appears in the pages of scripture.

It comes by allowing every circumstance to make us lean back on His life, hiding nothing from His eyes, by bringing every friendship and every loyalty to His gaze, for his approval or disapproval… It comes by walking every day expecting Him to be with us.

O’ such a blessed secret to the successful walk with Jesus.

 

That is exactly what Paul says comes of… knowing Christ.

O’so much more…

 

First there is that power of the resurrection.

It is a risen Lord who dwells within us, and we have that power which is able to do in us above all that we ask or think, according to that power which works in us.

This is the power of Christ’s resurrection.

Please know that it is power that is perfectly adequate for every possible circumstance.

It is confidently acting in full assurance that He is acting with us simultaneously, and that risen power is ours.

 

The second thing that stems from this knowledge of Christ is the participation in his sufferings.

The remarkable thing about the sufferings of Christ is that they are always for someone else, never for one’s self.

This is that compassion we all earnestly long for.

It doesn’t come by trying.

It comes by knowing him; by simply entering into what He is to you.

This makes you compassionate.

This is the primary reason why Christians suffer.

Not so much for you, but for others.

Have you ever noticed that when a Christian gets desperately sick and he takes it as an opportunity to manifest the grace of Christ, that Christian becomes the center of victory and hope and blessing to everyone who visits him?

 

Then the last thing… becoming like Him in His death.

So…

What does that mean?

 

The death of Jesus Christ was the end of the old life of sin and self-pleasing.

We know that there was no sin nor self-pleasing in his own life, but on that cross he was made to be all that we are, sinful and self-pleasing, and then it was put to death.

The cross was the end of that.

Now, that is liberty, because for the first time if we accept this as being true, we are set free from our selfish, ease-loving, luxury-seeking.

We are free to be real men and real women… Unbound, delivered, no longer constantly concerned about what happens to us, but only concerned about what happens to Christ.

 

What a journey this is.

Like the marvelous ministry among many people the apostle Paul had.

And…

This is freely offered to every believer in Christ.

 

Please see that this is not achieved by just trying, struggling, striving.

It comes as a by-product of truly knowing Christ.

 

Dear Lord…

Thank you, for the joy of simply knowing You.

We pray that we may know the power of Your resurrection and the participation in Your sufferings, being conformed to You.

 

Consider this…

Do you want to know Christ merely to define your theology and refine your doctrinal views?

Are you missing the life-defining pursuit of knowing Christ intimately?

How can you truly learn to know Him?

 

Engage…

Yep, all in…

He is near and awaits you.



“Energy For 2020”

Energizer Bunnies of the Bible

 

Have you ever thought about it…

Wow, there were many exceptional people in the Bible who exhibited exceptional energy… energizer bunnies… Those who kept going for a very, long time… Those who kept going despite horrible circumstances… Those who kept going even the when people sought to stop or kill them… Those who kept going when confronted with poor health, old age and even surrounded my nay sayers.

 

So what kept them energized?

What or Who were they plugged into?

 

Indeed, there were many, but this morning, let’s take a brief look at just one… plugged In David.

 

Yep…

David… an Old Testament Energizer Bunny

 

So…

What made David run?

 

What makes the child run and shout with glee on a summer morning?

What brings the lover running to the door where their beloved returns?

 

So what made David run?

 

David was a God-intoxicated man.

For David had gazed on God until he was enraptured and he could not always contain that rapture.

 

While still a young man, in the presence of the Holy Ark he let himself go in an ecstatic dance that delighted God as much as it outraged the coldhearted Michal.

 

I don’t know about you…

But, when I was young… I loved the Psalms of David long before I knew why.

 

Back then I would return to them again and again… and at times it seems more than to any other portion of Scripture… I would chide myself for this preference for after all I was a New Testament believer and the Psalms belonged to the Old.

 

Then one day I read a sentence from a little book by Horatius Bonar.

It said simply… “The Spirit of Jesus dwells in the Psalms.”

I thought… so true… I knew what I saw… what I loved… that same rapture of the Spirit of God touching… speaking to me through the Word… through the expressions of David… David, sold out to the Lord… at his best… even at his worst.

 

For, David in the Spirit knew and communed with the One who was to be his son according to the flesh, “and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

 

It was the love of Christ that made David run… “O love of Jesus! Blessed love!”

 

Yes, for energizer bunnies like David… David waited patiently for the LORD.

He delighted in the LORD and committed his way to Him.

 

This was David’s power source.

 

It can be ours as well!

 

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7a)

 

Dear Lord, we have a hard time being still and waiting for You.

We seem to be activity prone and impatient.

May we sit still, shut up and wait on You… Amen

 

Draw Close…

He is Near…

Listen



“Thoughts on Your Calling”

Thoughts on your “Calling”

 

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’” Mark 10:49 (NIV)

 

Push the pause button on your busy world for just a bit.

 

Consider this…

 

Have you considered that your highest calling was something you sensed that you are supposed to do?

Have you further considered that your highest calling might be something else… i.e. maybe some place you are supposed to be?

Or…

Have you thought that a “calling” was reserved only for some “special people” or those paid to do ministry.

 

Yep’… I know the word calling can be complex…

 

One dictionary definition of calling is “a profession or occupation,” but the one we most commonly think of is “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career.”

Christians identify God as the source of that strong urge, so the word calling sometimes seems too big for us.

 

But… let’s take a look at  Mark 10:46-50… where Jesus calls a very ordinary man.

 

“As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’

“Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’

“So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus” (NIV).

 

Bartimaeus wasn’t anyone special.

In fact, he would have been considered sub-ordinary by a culture who mistakenly prejudged his blindness as sinful.

That could have been a barrier, yet when Jesus called, Bartimaeus rushed to Jesus’ side.

Bartimaeus didn’t let anything deter him from Jesus’ calling.

 

So…

Consider…

What barriers or obstacles have kept you from God’s calling on your life?

 

Sometimes doubt keeps us stuck, wondering if we really heard God or just imagined it.

We can even doubt God would want to use us.

 

Another stumbling block to calling is self-doubt, feeling certain that someone else is better or more equipped.

 

Comparison kills calling.

 

Some of us have let our callings die because of hard circumstances, the voices of naysayers or the diversion of busyness in our day-to-day lives.

Soon…

The dreams we once held dear have faded until they’re fuzzy and distant.

 

The biggest obstacle to fulfilling our calling is that we often misidentify what our first calling really is.

 

Our highest calling isn’t what we usually think.

It’s not a job we do, a title we earn, or even a check we write.

 

Our first calling is to respond to Jesus and go to Him, just like Bartimaeus did.

We’re called to come close.

 

When we do, Jesus draws us near and calls us His brothers and sisters (Matthew 12:50).

He erases the divide between our humanity and His divinity by calling us friends (John 15:15).

 

While our faith leads us to accomplish good works, our first and highest calling is simply to be near Jesus.

When we are, everything else… all the doing… begins to fall in place.

 

Dear Lord… we’ve often confused Your calling for our doing.

Although faith includes action, our first and highest calling is to be near You.

Today… this very day…

We hear and accept Your calling.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Draw Close, He is Near=



Personal Prayer

What’s Prayer Look Like in Your Everyday Life

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” (Colossians 4:2) “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) (And many more)

 

God has been speaking to my heart recently about spending more time with Him in my life’s daily journey.

Sometimes when the Holy Spirit is bugging me about something, I am led share it.

Why…

Because I’ve found that if I’m dealing with an issue, there are often other folks dealing with it too.

 

So…

On this matter…

I really do believe God loves it when we spend individual, undivided time in prayer with Him… i.e. prayer closet time.

Time that is specifically dedicated to Him and for Him.

 

However…

If that is the only time He gets, then just maybe, we haven’t allowed His presence to live in our hearts as He fully intended.

 

So…

This prompted the question:

Where and when can I pray besides those arranged quiet times alone with God?

 

In other words…

When our families are engaged in those especially busy seasons….

When we are working… trying to make that latest, pressing deadline… When we have to take care of our homes, our cars, or even that pesky, consuming “tech” we carry with us all the time… Whatever God has entrusted us with…

 

So…

Where and when can we pray?

Can we simply have a prayerful conversation with God wherever we are?

 

Let me share a simple story with you.

There was a time some years ago when I was working in Xi’an China.

A rather busy small Chinese city of 7.9 million people… even though my residence was in the “smaller” internal village of Xi’an called Dianzicheng (about 1 million residents).

Daily communications at work in the city was intense… as was general life because it was always in Chinese… For, you see, I was one of only 5 english speaking expats in that area of Xi’an.

I also found it difficult to find a quiet place to spend “quality” time with my Lord… as the noise of millions and millions of city folk can be rather deafening.

Each day, it was a challenge to whittle out prayerful moments in the crazy… busy schedule that was life in China.

So…

I began to complain to God… asking The Holy Spirit to tell me… show me how and where to find a place to daily pray while in the city.

 

His answer kind of startled me…

“You know… daily you walk most places as you do not have a car and your directions to the taxi drivers is less that precise. Therefore, while you walk along the sidewalks to your appointments, offer a silent prayer for the people you see walking near you.”

I thought… sure… but which ones, there are sure lot’s of them… He responded… “Let’s start with people carrying babies”… I thought… hum… I see a number of them along the way.

Who else, I inquired…

“Let’s keep it simple for now… I want to show you the power of silent prayer in busy, noisy environments.”

So, the next morning while walking… I did as instructed… Soon I saw a mother carrying a baby on her shoulder… As I began to silently pray for the baby being carried in front of me, something amazing happened… the baby jumped, raised its head and turned to look directly at me… and smiled.

Wow…

That morning… time and again, the same reaction.

I pushed the envelope a bit on the way back in the afternoon… silently praying for any child I saw along the way… each time… they would turn and smile.

For, you see… the Holy Spirit blesses each of us with many, many opportunities for prayer.

 

So…

How about your opportunities for prayer…

 

In the grocery or other shopping line… Has He placed someone near you to pray for?

In the kitchen of your home… yep… while stirring the pot.

Maybe while driving… lift up some of those wonderful windshield prayers… But, don’t get too carried away with this one or you might miss a turn.

Not that I’ve ever been known to do that.

Maybe while heading to your desk or cubicle at work… pray for those along the isle or even the empty chairs that will soon be occupied.

Or maybe when you first awake… “Lord, give me strength to live for You and glorify Your Name.” 

And, at night… Why not fall asleep while praying. 

Somehow, I don’t think God is offended at that one bit.

In fact, I think He loves it. 

 

So…

How about you? 

I know you have some times and places that work for you… Why not, share them with others.

So…

Where do you find time to pray?

Y’a know… it’s ok to pray to God anywhere at any time.

 

Draw Close… He is Near.



Find Your Place

On the “maddening ambiguity” of our faith

Remember the words of C.S. Lewis… he said that you and I live in what C. S. Lewis called a “maddening ambiguity.”

On one hand, our Father loves us individually beyond compare.

In “The Weight of Glory”, Lewis observed: “Everything that is joined to the immortal head will share his immortality.”
He noted, “It was not for societies or states that Christ died, but for men.”

And…
On the other hand, our value lies not in who we are but in Whose we are.

According to Lewis, “As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder” (cf. Galatians 2:20). However, “as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.”

We were made for a life more abundant than our fallen culture can experience or even imagine (John 10:10). 

But we will find this life only when we join ourselves to a larger narrative in which we play only one part.

So…
How can one find their role in God’s redemptive story?

Bob Buford (a most effective leadership mentor) wrote numerous books and collaborated with a number of other authors.  In his foreword to Chip Ingram’s insightful “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”, Buford stated his threefold passion:

  • To help people discover their Core (the best they have to offer);
  • To create Capacity (make time and money available to fulfill their God-given calling and design);
  • To discover the Context (the unique role and place they fit to make the greatest difference) for the glory of God.

So…

What is your core?

What spiritual gifts has God bequeathed to you?
What abilities and resources has God entrusted to you?
What is your capacity?
Are you devoting your time and money to serving God and others with your best?

If not, why not?

What is your context?

Do you believe you are making your greatest impact on our culture for God’s glory?

If not, pray for God’s leadership and seek wisdom from those to whom He directs you.

Christians who are committed to their core, capacity, and context change the world, one eternal soul at a time.

Let’s not miss a day to engage in this important assignment our Lord has entrusted to us.

(Some of the above from The Denison Forum)

Drew Close… He is Near