Friday, February 19, 2010

Walking in faith

I was thinking about what Frances Chan said on the radio show, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey on Wednesday night as I was driving to church. I was thinking about his comments of how sometimes Christians are afraid to step out in faith and stand on an extreme prayer request, that is asked in line with the will of God. That we are afraid of the rejection or that is something doesn't happen as we asked that we have missed God and will look bad.

It made me think about Moses. The guy had everything, but chose to leave it behind, went out to the wilderness, had an encounter with God, and then had to go back to the place he had left and 1) Go tell the ruler of the land to let the Israelites go to the wilderness to worship God 2) Go tell the Israelites that he is the one that came to speak on their behalf to the Pharaoh and led them out of Egypt.

I was looking over notes I had written from previous Bible readings and come across a note from Exodus 3 that I wrote back in September 2008. My notes state "God can reach us even when we are doing common things (verse 1). God called Moses twice to get his attention. God sees and hears us. He comes to deliver us and give us into a promised land. God will send someone to demand 'let my people go.' If he sends you, he will be with you. Moses had to tell his story to the elders. He had physical backup the king. God knew how Pharaoh would respond, but He sent Moses anyway.

I read that, and had another Ahh Haa moment - something obviously that I knew, but that had not clicked for me. If God would send Moses into a situation where he would be rejected and told no, why would He change His methods. As Pastor Curtis Holt says "Satan won't ask you to do something that will further God's kingdom." Why should I be afraid if God tells me to pray for something, speak to someone, or take a stand - of the response of others? My role as a Christian is obedience to God, not based on the response of others.

  1. There are going to be times when God sends us and we are going to hit a road block, not once but repeatedly just like Moses.
  2. Sometimes things will get tougher before we see the results, Pharaoh made things rough every step of the way for Moses and the Israelites.
  3. People in other positions may make things harder for us; the Egyptians had the Israelites to meet the same goals in their labor with fewer resources.
  4. People may complain against us, the Israelites certainly complained against Moses to just leave them alone it was easier before he came along.
  5. We may get blamed for things that happen outside of our control, Moses was blamed for everything.
  6. We may second guess ourselves and God's word to us, Moses did.

It is time we start walking by faith, lead by the Holy Spirit. It is much easier than it was for Moses as we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us and empower us and the grace of God to help us walk it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ahh Haa

I feel like every day something new is being revealed to me, something that I should have known for as long as I have been a Christian. I am having these "ahh haa moments" and it is just blowing my mind!!!

Yesterday I was driving to church and was running late. There is a certain point on my trip to church where my regular radio station goes out, so I hit the scan button, and was intrigued when I heard this question asked, so I stopped the scan. The person talking asked "What would be different in your life tomorrow, if the Holy Spirit left your life today." It was Family Life Today and they were interviewing Francis Chan on Forgotten God. I had no clue who he was, but after looking him up online to see the show I was listening too and his name, I think I have heard of some of his material "Crazy Love" before, but I haven't ever listened to him or ready his material.

Anyway, He shared about a faith and how the Holy Spirit help us. He was talking about how his faith had grown, but how often people are afraid to pray big because they do not want to be disappointed or look bad if God doesn't answer "Yes" to the prayer, as they requested. He told this story about a lady coming to him asking for counseling for her marriage, the week her divorce would be finalized. She was standing in faith, and asked him to agree with her. He was questioning her view on reality and not having faith. However four years later, her marriage is still restored and the couple is still married. It helped him in his walk to begin believing for the impossible.

As he shared, maybe it was the lady's story, that so resembles my own with my spouse. Or maybe it was the message from the week before I heard about how the seed of all God's character is in us at salvation. But I had this "ahh haa moment." I felt so overwhelmed by it. I am not even sure I have the words to explain what all I got out of it.

So here is a brief summary:
1) With God, all things are possible.
2) It ain't faith, if I know it can happen.
3) You have to step out in action having true faith.
4) Love never fails.
5) If Christians would step out in action, believing in faith, things would happens that would rock this world and turn things upside down.
6) You can't stop believing.
7) It is only going to happen one person at a time.
8) I gotta be part of it.

Like I said, these things are things I have "known." But I have never applied it to my life. I mean brief moments of great faith, answered prayers, and then back to mundane. This Mr. Chan was talking about being shocked when God doesn't move as he asks!!!

Maybe I will be able to reveal more about it, but right now, I am still overwhelmed by the revelation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spiritually blind

I was reading John 9 last night John 9:41 states "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

As I took a closer look at the chapter, I noticed a familiar presence in the responses of those invovled. There is a man, who has been blinded from birth. The Disciples come to Jesus looking for answers.

Jesus takes what is in front of Him and uses it to glorify God. He responds "I am the light of the world." He heals the man.

The disciples took what was in front of them and started looking for someone to blame. "Was it the parent's sin or this man's sin that caused him to be blind from birth?"

The people who knew the man, didn't rejoice for the sight of thier friend. They took him before the Pharisee's because he was healed on the Sabbath.

The Pharisee's were divided over the sight of the blind man. Was it sin for healing on the Sabbath or a miracle from God?

The Jewish leaders didn't believe. They cursed the man.

The parent's were afraid of the personal consequences to themselves. They told those questioning them to go back to the son for answers.

The man that was healed, proclaimed the truth and the revelation that came to him. He worshipped Jesus.

As I thought about these responses, all to the same situation - I realized how much things stay the same. We are all exposed to the same Light that opened the blinded eyes.

Some respond as the disciples did, trying to place blame - like Adam in the garden "It was the woman YOU gave me." Or we blame our actions and inactions on the past hurts or others>

Others start comparing, and try to get a "One-Up" on someone else. "Look what HE did on the Sabbath, we would never do that." We compare what we do or don't do to what someone else is doing wrong, to make ourselves look better.

Others try to split hairs like the Pharisee's. The blinded man could see. It didn't matter if they wanted to call it a miracle or a sin, it didn't change the face he could see. We try to argue points, to the point of denomination and church splits, that do not change the facts.

Some respond with disbelief and blatant hatred and cursing like the Jewish leaders. There are people who when presented with the truth and then just refuse to accept it and have nothing but ugly things to say.

Other's know the truth, like the parents. They are more concerned about what it will cost them if they speak openly about it. There are those who have a head knowledge, but are more concerned about what they might have to give up to walk in the truth, what other's might think, or what it might cost them.

But then there is that one, whose life was personally touched. The one whose eyes were opened. The one who can not deny the change. The one whose very life stands as a testimony to the goodness of God. The one who worships God with their whole life. The one who had a personal revelation of the truth of Christ. Lord help me to be the one who once was blind but now I see, not one who claims to see but is really spiritually blind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love's seed

My sister asked if I had written any blogs about marriage. My immediate answer was NO. I am certainly not an expert on marriage, although I have a testimony related to my marriage and will maybe someday share it. However, I do have some thoughts on love. With V-Day coming up I thought, it might be appropriate to post them here.

Love never fails. I Cor 13:8

As I was driving home Wednesday night the lady talking on the radio referred to this verse. She was talking about marriage, which is kinda a funny thought in this world we live in with 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. This verse is in the "Love Chapter" as it is often referred. Yet once again, I got a completely different message than what she was referring.

See my mind was still reeling from the challenging message of John Bevere - Week 4 Grace and Mercy of Extraordinary that we ware watching in church discipleship class. He was talking about seeds containing all the characteristics of the nature of what the seed came from.

What an amazing concept I John 3:9 states "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him." Well, it dawned on me if we have the seed of God in us, agape love should be in us.

We can love unconditionally. There is no excuse for us to not, by the grace of God. His seed is in us, and seeds contain all the characteristics of the giver (God).

I think a lot of times we come across pain in a relationship and call it quits. I am guilty myself. It doesn't matter if it is marriage, family relationships, friendships, any kind of relationship. Love never fails.

So, as a Christian there are only two options when we decide to call it quits on a realtonship. 1) You are a liar and never loved - which if you read the next chpater in I John, means you don't really know God. Or 2) You can love through the situation, regardless of what it is.

Neither is easy to accept. It is easier to call it quits. It is easier to place blame. It is easier to make excuses, to walk away.

But love never fails. It does not come to an end. Love endures. God's word is the truth. Since the seed of God lives in us, and God is love, than our love (through God's grace) (for all people) will never fail.

a whole nother level

We have been learning about living an extraordinary life in Wednesday night discipleship class. One of the verse we discussed was to live as Jesus did (I John2:6), and for some time now I have been reading the gospels to see what Jesus did and how he lived. We last night I came across a scripture that literally made me see the extraordinary life that Jesus live taken to, as Pastor Ed Young would say "A 'hole 'nother level."

I know that Jesus was God. I know that God knows everything. I just never really thought about Jesus on earth knowing everything. I think I focus on the fact that he was human, facing the same problems, tests and trials that we do. But I came across this verse, that made it very clear. Jesus knew who was going to betray Him from the beginning.

Talk about a new level, Jesus know who would betray Him, yet He still called Judas as a disciple. He still opened Himself up to Judas and was in close fellowship with him. I mean it is not like Judas was just one of His followers, Judas was one of the 12, one in the group closest to Jesus. And yet Jesus, in His human self let Judas in that circle - not by mistake or accident, on purpose.

Two sobering thoughts hit me 1) Jesus made himself vulnerable, to the point of death, by His own free will - for me. I mean He sacraficed His life, and that was enough, but He was literally sleeping with the enemy (and I do not mean that in a perverted way) to save me.

2) Jesus knew this person in His inner circle would betray Him, and He still let Judas in. He did not treat Judas differently than the other disciples, He loved him, served him, and opened his life to Judas.

And as I write this, I realize Christ has called us to live the same way. We can not carry offense, keep people at arms lengths, or just walk away. We are still to minister to people, love them, serve them, even if they have the potential to hurt us or have hurt us.

I am left wondering in my human mind, if Jesus thought He might be able to change Judas so that he would not go down that path - if the pure love Jesus gave could have changed Judas' path. I realize ultimately someone else would have filled Judas's shoes, but I am still left wondering.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

His Yoke, My Burden

As I was standing in church Wednesday evening, completely drained emotionally. I was trying to praise God during praise and worship, I realized I was doing it wrong. I can't remember what song we were singing, just that I felt so empty. I firmly believe that while we go to church to get spiritually filled, that we should also be ministering to God while we are there, with our praise and worship, prayers, and being an open vessel for His use.

So I was having a little pity party prayer to God. I was making excuses about how rough my week had been and all the problems I was facing (as if He didn't know). Matthew 11:28-30 came to mind. "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."

As I thought about that scripture, I realized what I was doing wrong. I had gone through the motions that day and the days previous that week, but when I said amen to my prayers, I picked the problems back up and took them with me. When I read my Bible, I wasn't looking for truth and revelation. I was reading words on a page and not allowing them to speak to my life. When I had my time of praise and worship, I had sang words to a song - not words from my heart.

I realized that God was not giving me more than I could bare. I was chosing to carry more than I needed to. My choices to not give things to God, were weighing me down. I was opening myself up to be drained, so that Satan could use my state to render me an ineffective witness. I realized my biggest weak spot spiritually comes when I am emotionally drained.

It is not hard to stay emotionally drained when you deal with other people's tragadies every day. Especially if you have control issues and personalize what others are going through. Many parents take on the problems of their children - if something is wrong with the child, the parent personalizes it and attempts to carry that burden to spare a child. Well I do that with my kids, but also with every other person I work with - patients, clients, families, plus my own personal family and friends. I hate to see people hurting.

But I know that the right thing for me to do, is to commit each situation to God and leave it there for Him. He doesn't put the expectations on me, His yoke is light. I don't have to carry them and allow myself to be so drained I have nothing to give back. I can handle things as they arise, commit it to God, and continue on in my ministry.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sharing the burden

I am a pretty independent person. Although I am known to be pretty outspoken, I am a pretty private person. I am also a person who likes to be in control, not of everything, just things that I am responsible for, and I can be pretty anal about things when I lose that control.

As I was listening in Exodus last week, I felt a certain connection with Moses over this need to be in control. Moses had led the people out of Israel, and you can imagine with the large number of people, there were lots of interpersonal problems. Moses was the "go-to person" and was burning the candle so to speak at both ends. His Father-in-Law Jethro comes to visit, and has a little meeting with him about setting boundaries and sharing responsibility (see Exodus 18:17-18).

I can definately relate, and certainly needed to hear that message. It is very easy to think my way is the right way. It is very easy to want to control my environment. It is so easy to be "needed" and to get into helping others. I know I get very possessive over the families and people I work with. I personalize things "my kids", "my family", "my patient". I always have where work is concerned. It is easy for me to try to do it all by myself.

I thought I had learned this lesson, when I started depending on God more, making Him my "go-to God". I have learned to turn to him with the big and small things. I have learned to take things to Him as a first resort not a last resort.

However, as I listened to Jethro's advise to Moses, I realized yet again God speaking to me. Speaking to me about the need to share responsibility. To focus on the big things, and know that other things can be trusted to others. I have to learn to let other people take over and trust that things will still work out for the good of all involved.

This was once again driven home by a 3rd source, an unlikely source for me to get anything from. As I woke up this morning Laurin was watching 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter. The mother there had taken on additional responsibility at work, filling in for the nurse supervisor. It took a toll on her children, with her being gone for so many hours. Then she was offered the position full time, but turned it down because she realized that she had other things in her life that were more important. I think that it is time to make some changes, and let go of things that are not as important in my life as God, my husband, my children, my family. I know this will not be easy for me, but I know God will give me the grace to do it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An offering made by fire

I was listening to Leviticus today as I drove to work this morning, where they listed the sacrifices that had to be made for atonement, peace, wave, sin, etc. I have read this information before and always thank God that He sent His Son to serve as the ultimate sacrifice. I am grateful we do not have to continue making these sacrifices on alters.

However, as I listened today there was one phrase that caught my attention. "An offering made by fire, a pleasing aroma to the Lord." As I heard this, my mind immediately thought of I Sam. 15:22 "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

We no longer have to go to the temple and make regular repentance as they did in the Old Testament. However, we are still suppose to make offerings, and not just the financial kind. Our life is to be lived as an offering (Phil 2:17) for the Lord.

When we go through tests and trials, we are under fire. When we are obedient to God through the trial, walking through by His grace, and don't walk in the flesh when these times come - our obedience, our offering made by fire is a sweet aroma to the Lord.

I wish I could say that when I am under fire, that I walk by the grace of God, That I give an offering, a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord - but I can't. However, I know that I can now, because God's word never asks us to do something that He doesn't give us the grace to do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Road

In Luke 24, after Jesus resurrected, He walked on the road to Emmaus with two men who according to verse 15 should have known Jesus. As you read on, He talked at great length with them and spent an afternoon with them. But it wasn't until evening that their eyes were opened to who they had been with (Luke 24:31) all that time.

While it is easy for me to think, if I was walking with Jesus I would have known, but the reality is I probably would have been blind to this too. I have been a Christian since I was eight years old, and walked in a personal relationship with Him since I was seventeen. Yet so often, I fail to see Jesus in the midst of my day, even as I go about serving Him.

I know that He is with me, for His word promises "I will never leave you, or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrew 13:5)

But so often as I walk this road of life, through a day, and sometimes weeks, I fail to recognize Him. Often it is not until "I need Him" that I start looking for Him. In reality, He was there all along, walking beside me, waiting for me to turn to Him and recognize Him. To acknowledge He is there with me. I do not take the time to look and see what is really going on around me, and to whom I am giving my time.

I pray my heart will burn within me as I walk through my day with Him. That I may recognize Him as all times, as I walk and talk with Him each moment of my life.