April 18, 2014 § 1 Comment
It’s not easy being busy. Always needing one more minute which really translates to 45 minutes. With my kids, that means they wait while I rush and then I rush them because I waited till the very last moment to do whatever it is we were scheduled to do. With work, that means I move from one project to the next in a frenzy to get it all done. Often spending my hours with the nagging feeling that I have not done so much of what I need to. With God, that means I’m always off to somewhere taking Him with me. Rather than He taking me with Him. It’s not easy being busy.
My mind has become so busy that it sometimes takes hours on Saturday morning to come down from the week. I somewhat mindlessly pin and read NY Times articles until my mind is calm. There are weeknights when I know my mind has not settled down until I read the Word and go to bed. My mind doesn’t stop until it turns off for sleep and then starts again with the sunrise. My mind and I are spending a lot of time together. Trouble is that, other than me and my mind, there are three other people in my house, a loving God that I serve and a whole world out there for adventure.
In light of the tough events our church recently has hardshipped through, our pastor asked us to search our hearts for any secrets, hidden sin. As I sought Him for His wisdom, He showed me that He didn’t ask me to be busy. He has given me many blessings and gifts and talents, but He did not plan for me to be busy in the way that I am. It has been just over a week since the Lord showed this to me. It has been on my mind, but I have been rather unsure about how to be unbusy. How to have a state of mind that is not racing time and tasks.
I am thinking about a volume dial where you can turn the noise down. It feels good on the inside of me to think about turning down the busy in my life. I have the sense that turning down the speed in my mind will lend itself to turning down the busy in my life. It makes sense to make the change in my mind and spirit. The internal flow will influence the outward choices I make in my life.
Our bible study was recently asked to write a list of personal priorities on a lavender sheet of paper. I haven’t completed it yet. But I have been carrying that lavender sheet of paper since Monday. Sort of like I have been carrying the thought of unbusy for several days. The truth is that regular reflection is part of the believers life. I am going to reflect on unbusy. What will you reflect upon?
What It Means To Me To Be Unbusy
1. Be ready to spend time with my kids, not busy
2. Have time to sit down to dinner a few nights a week, just to talk and laugh
3. Stop working every breathing moment I have and take time to be unbusy
4. Let God know that my heart is soft and moldable and doesn’t have to be busy
5. Take all the unbusy and go on an adventure with God
April 8, 2014 § 2 Comments
The ground shakes and your chest pains. And your gut ties itself up. That is shock and pain twisted up together. As you still feel the aftereffects of the quake, the wind blows and you look for the substance in which you used to feel in the wind. And, you say to your God, are you still here? In the place where the sins of man rocked Your congregation.
Instead of feeling Him in the mighty wind, you see that He has come nearer and it is His breath that has filled the place and moved across your cheek. You see and you know that Your God is ever present in time of need. He doesn’t leave His house. He is not surprised by the sin of man.
With your spiritual eyes, you see that He has sent legions of angels to stand on the ground that we walk. For the purpose of empowerment, grace and mercy to cover pain. The city walls are not damaged but even more so guarded by the power of His great hand. I can choose to believe many things about good and evil. But, I choose to believe that God is good and the extent of His greatness is yet to be fully seen. This is the hope of Christ. That until He is seen face to face, there is great victory in living, right now, for Him.
Satan may have set out to destroy this ground. But, covered in the redeeming blood of Christ, we walk on holy ground that is established on the Word of God. We are more than conquerors. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.
Romans 8: 31-38: 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.
April 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
There is a story of you. You are a story in which to tell the stones of your remembrance. For every height and every depth, there is a tabernacle set right in your heart. The chest in your heart holds artifacts describing and remembering. The artifacts are precious to you and are a testament to your great journeys to the bottom of the sea, to the whitest, mountain caps, on the waves roaring oceans and where the soles of your feet walk on sand. The artifacts help you retell the story. You are the story.
Use what is in your heart to bless others. Share your artifacts. There is no question that your journeys have fine tuned in you gifts and talents. As you consider pouring into others, use what is at your fingertips. Even if it is tucked within you, you know that you can weave tapestries of gold into someone else. You, and only you, are capable of placing the silver lining into eyes that are turned down toward the ground. Only your mind is capable of speaking wisdom into a heart that is troubled over a tough decision. You, and only you, have the words to encourage a thought into a joyful realty. It is okay that you and only you are capable of these things. There is only one you.
Your individuality has great worth when set towards the things of God. Don’t underestimate your story. It is your irrefutable argument. You can’t be moved on what God has done on the inside of you. Someone else can be moved by what God has done on the inside of you. Don’t let dust settle on your artifacts. Don’t let puddles cover up your stones of remembrance. Share the story of the Him in you.
Joshua 4: 20-24: And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[a] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Inspired by Louis Giglio’s sermon of February 9, 2014 at Passion City Church, Atlanta, GA.
Inspired by Adonis Reeves Monday bible study of 3/31/14 at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.
March 25, 2014 § 2 Comments
Have you ever caught yourself praying for something and, in a quid-pro-quo way, it occurs to you that you may get something from God. Not the overflowing blessings from God. I am talking about, in a mathematical way, calculating the results of your prayer or, better yet, your actions. I am not talking about this in a proud way. The fact that I have seen my own mind go in this direction is disconcerting.
I don’t only see this in myself, but I see it in others. Playing games with destiny by calculating results. It seems quite self-interested to me, but it is also very subtle. It is the person who always and never seems to be genuinely happy. The person who uses her pointer finger to move the compass in her direction no matter the actual direction of the compass. The manipulation of the compass may be in her relationship with God, with her spouse, or really just an overreaching press to move the realities of her life to her liking. Wow, it sounds really bad, but we all know or love this person. She may be your casual friend, someone in the family or maybe you.
God is plainly clear about how He feels about our calculated sacrifices and prayers. Through the prophet Isaiah, He says . . .
When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:12-15.
I don’t know that I can add to the heart of God on this matter. It is an understatement to say that God sees through our calculations. In fact, He doesn’t even listen. Rather, humbling, isn’t it?
What is more remarkable to me is the following verse. God doesn’t skip a beat. He gives us a remedy.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17.
These are the Lord’s calculations, or rather plans for us. We don’t have a place to make plans for ourselves outside of His goodness. He wants us to be “willing and obedient.” Isaiah 1:19. He wants to forgive us and give us good things. Because really, the good things He has in store for us are always far better than what our eyes can see. 1 Corinthians 2:9.
But God has revealed [wisdom] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now that we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.
March 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Who are you and what are you made of? You are His beloved. But, how often do or don’t you feel like that? I think about my weaknesses, mistakes, sins. They all exist, that’s a fact. Maybe your current circumstances bring out thoughts of inadequacies. I experience lack of wisdom, even for the things I think I know. In the face of pressing circumstances, I have to dig deep in me to bubble up the wisdom that, apparently, I have hidden on the inside. You are His beloved. But, how often do you feel like that?
How many times has something of the past come to mind and immediately you think, “Oh Lord, how embarrassing, how stupid, how base. Who was that person who did that, Lord?” And then you remember, yes, that was me, then. Yes, it’s a fact. That was you, then. I, by no means, discount who you are now, but who you were then seeps in from time to time. You are His beloved. But, how often do you feel like that?
Identity is received by the Father, not achieved in the world. Think about that wisdom. Who you are and what you are made of is a gift from the Father. We all know that at any given time who we are right now doesn’t exactly look like the specific promises of God over our lives. But that’s okay. He is working out all of those details in your life. He is giving you many opportunities to grow and walk right into straight paths. I think it is our responsibility to choose right according to His word. Have faith that He can do anything in you and you can do anything He asks you to in Him.
Be honest with yourself. Make corrections where you can. Give away who you are not today. I have learned that the breadth of His great love consumes any sin that I am willing to humbly give to Him. I have learned that I, by no means, have all of the answers for myself or for all of the people I love and care for. I am learning that it is okay to pass on to Him in faith what I can’t resolve or figure out. I am starting to learn that it is His love that is enabling me to learn these things. All of the love that He bore on His back for me at the cross. It is this kind of love that makes me His beloved. I promise you that I do not understand all of what I am saying today, but faith and love have pulled me along to this place. And, with faith and love, I will continue on from this place.
Inspired by Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon Rich Jesus, Poor Jesus, January 26, 2014, Mars Hill Church . Italics come from my sermon notes.
Also inspired by Pastor Bob Coy’s sermon Help Them Heal Them – Cost, March 2, 2014, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.
March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Do you have ideas about your life and what you should do? We all do whether in battle or peace. We all have inclinations to go where our emotions lead. To be drawn to what seems warm and safe. Oh, but God, and his great plans for us. I like to take right turns, I like toasty fires and soft blankets. Oh, but God and his wonderful plans for us. He has a quiet voice that is apparent if I lay quietly and ask him why God, what God, what happens next God? If I remain quiet long enough for Him to ring through my emotions, I hear Him. He shows me direction, He shows me where I am and where not to go today. Where not to go today is not just good enough, but more than enough for me to get up and breathe into the direction where I am not going. Thank you God for knowing how to speak to us in words we can understand.
Proverbs 18:10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
That is what He is making us – - a strong tower. Towers are tall and securely built. Each brick of your life is placed in such a manner that the hard winds of your next storm fail to decompose or chip at the tower. The stronger the Lord makes the tower, the more winds it can sustain. The enemy can blow to no avail when the Lord makes the tower in you. God, wherever each of us may be in the building of our internal tower, help us have the faith to grow tall in you.
Isaiah 41:10: So, do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.
Sometimes it feels like the water is up to your arms. Sometimes you don’t even know the water is up to your arms until He shows you. Sometimes you have to stay away from the water and stand on dry ground. His hands hold us wherever we are, but it is better to be on the ground God calls us to. Thank you God for seeing what we cannot see on our own.
John 16:33: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
Psalm 63: A psalm of David. For us when we are in the desert . . .
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
For the last few years, I ponder to God . . . You are too good. The heart of what I am trying to say to God is – - Where, my Lord, did you ever come up with the decision to bless me this way? How are you bringing forth such creative goodness that was made to touch me this way? I am awestruck by His greatness and outpouring of His goodness on me. Because, really, He knows my capacity to be like the wild man in the tombs. I have the capacity to be naked, isolated, bound and wild, but I am not. And even more than not, I am clothed, cared for, free and a protected daughter of God.
Still, when I whisper to God that You are too good, there is something in my heart that tells me to go deeper with that love expression to Him. It is fairly human to tell someone they are too good. It is usually an act of unexpected kindness that brings you to that phrase. You are plainly getting better than you think you deserve. So much so that you tell the person just how too good they are. The same is true with God. But God is not too good sometimes or less good other times. God is goodness. That kind of goodness reaches far into the heavens and scoops down low to save our souls and make us friends of God. I get glimpses of the expanse of His goodness in my day dreams, in my time with Him. In my dreams, I think of a place that is white as snow, with the breath of God as the blowing wind. In my dreams, the horizon is the perimeter of the stretch of God’s great arms wrapped around the holy ground. I can’t see the end, but I can see that He is the perimeter.
People are too good, and sometimes not. But God’s kind of good is extended all the time. His good is powered by great love, long suffering, patience and mercy. I am taken back to the wild man in the tombs. We’ve got to remember that none of us is too good to escape becoming bound, wild, naked and alone. But we also have to remember that when no one had any hope for that man, God visited the tombs and redeemed him. He became clothed, in his right mind and began worshipping at the Lord’s feet. God is really that good. He will go anywhere to meet us in our need. He clothes us, tends to our needs no matter how big or small. He frees us up so that we can really know His goodness. He protects us and calls us to mirror His goodness in acts of love and compassion towards others. Yes, in our human understanding, God is too good to us. But, truly the heart of God is goodness. He is our standard and our hope and our joy for all that has been and will be, good.
Inspired by Pastor Bob’s Sermon on Feb 16 – http://media.calvaryftl.org/player/index.cfm?fn=A1576
Inspired by Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon Study – http://www.lifeway.com/Product/GIDEON-YOUR-WEAKNESS-GODS-STRENGTH-MEMBER-BOOK-P005538485