Friday, June 29, 2012

Conversation Among Friends

"Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted". Psalm 25:16

Are you simply lonely? Loneliness is a strange thing. As you can be alone and not feel lonely at all. But you can be surrounded by people and be desperately lonely as David was in the above verse.  I have given this much thought as loneliness has plagued me on more than one occasion.  Also,  in serving others it is often loneliness that brings them to a point to ask for help.  But what causes us to be lonely?

From a practical standpoint, it is a lack of deep communication.  Often we go through the day only having surface level discussions. These discussions can include anything that is not an intimate detail of our lives.  We might talk about the children, our work, projects around the house, etc.  But perhaps out of fear, we do not discuss the details that matter most to us. Things like. . . What are we worried about? What are we hoping and dreaming about? And especially, we do not discuss our relationship with Christ and what we are learning. Nothing opens the door to our heart like discussing our walk with Christ or praying with someone.

Perhaps past hurt keeps us from trusting again with sharing our heart. But I ask. . .is the hurt of loneliness any less hurtful.  Besides, I don't think God meant for us to be lonely in the sense that we often find ourselves.  In the New Testament, the word lonely only occurs twice and both times refers to desolate places, where Jesus moved off into the wilderness to be alone .

"Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere." Mark 1:45

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16

Notice that these times weren't about an individuals emotions but rather the work of Jesus (and being alone with God).

There can be so many reasons that lead to our feelings of loneliness but there is only one cure. . .the comforting fellowship of Christ. We must, like David, turn to Him and pour out our heart so that He may fill it with His great love.  I encourage you to read through the 25th Psalm and cry out to the Father. Tell Him everything!

But rest assured, He (the Lord)  is the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13-15), and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  We can take great comfort in His promises. We can trust Him. We can tell Him anything. No special words need. . .just talk to Him as you would a best friend. Prayer changes things including loneliness.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Preparing the Way for the Lord

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” Mark 1:3

Our family has been thinking lots lately about what our role as Christians should be.  As a result, God is changing our hearts about some things and we are making some changes.  Today as I studied my Bible, the verses pertaining to John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ really hit me. I thought. . . that is it. That is our job.  To prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ (to return).

That also sums up what is changing in our hearts and minds.  We have a job to do and there is no time to waste. We have been preoccupied for far too long.  As a Christian, have you not read the verse in Matthew 25:21 (“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’) and thought I want that to be me. I want there to be something about the life I have lead that God would say, "Well done!"

So as I have examined my daily life, I have been a bit disappointed in my search for what pleases the Lord.  Yes, I do my best to be obedient to the Word of God. Yes, I disciple my children. Yes, I serve at church. But is that enough? For me, the answer is a resounding no.  I am disappointed with how I have allotted my time. So then what?

Prepare the Way for the Lord! But what does that mean?  In a word. . .missions.  No, I am not suggesting that everyone be a missionary in the traditional sense.  But we have to be passionate and intentional about it. Otherwise day after day after day slips by with nothing much given to this preparation for His return. How can we do that? Do we not care? Do we not believe? Do we not know our Bible enough to understand? Do we not pray? Do we not fully submit our lives to Him?

I cannot presume to know the answer for you. I pray that God will show you what to do. I pray His will show you how to spend your time and resources in a way that pleases Him and glorifies Him.  I pray that the changes will be so significant in both my family and yours that we won't even recognize that old way. Let's get busy "preparing the way for the Lord".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A New Day. . .

Today is a new day! A new day for me to lay down my life to Christ. Will I cry out for Him? Will I be willing no matter the cost? Will I love Him even half as much as He loves me? I hope so. Lord please take my life this day to use however you please.

Honestly, I feel so overwhelmed by the Savior that I don't really know what to write today but have something to share. After reading "Radical', I moved forward to "Radical Together". Both of these books are a great motivator to be in the Word of God and seek Him like never before. Here is something to get you thinking.

If someone were looking from the outside, would they see a person that is desperately seeking the Spirit of God? "I want to give God no rest until we experience the power and the presence of God that we see in the church of Acts. One man preaches and more than three thousand people are cut to the heart and saved. The Lord is adding daily to their number those being saved. The lame are walking, and the blind are seeing. Thousands are coming to Christ at great cost, yet they can't be kept from proclaiming the gospel. God is picking up people and putting them in remote deserts to talk to people who are wondering about Jesus, the number of disciples is growing rapidly, and the gospel is spreading with power. I want to be part of a move of God like that. Do you?" Radical Together Pg 119

As God is growing my heart for missions, I realized some things. Miracles are still happening. People are still risking their very life and the lives of their families. There are still many people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus. Estimated at 6000 out of 11,000 people groups who still need to hear His truth. And yet. . .we go on with life as normal. How can we do that? I hear so many Christians say they feel like they are supposed to be doing something more but don't know what. This is the something more. I urge you to fast and pray. Seek God's face like never before and see where He leads you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Here I am Lord. . .use me

 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20

I never thought I would say this but I have come to believe that a lack of missions is a lack of faith.  Yep, I said it.  Above I have quoted the verses often referred to as the Great Commission but notice I went back a couple verses. Verse 17 says, "but some doubted." That caught my attention as it seems to shed light on my own life. I have had hundreds of excuses for not getting involved.  Some sounded like, "My mission field is here" , "I already serve in many capacities at church", "There are so many lost all around us so why go anywhere." But let me ask you. . . Qver the last month or year, how much time have you spent obeying this commandment.  Has life and priorities gotten in the way? It does and Satan is counting on that.  But let's not allow him this victory.  God saved us not because of our work but to work.  In these verses and many others, He assigned our task.  Our relationship with Him is a master/servant relationship.  While He loves us wildly, He also has a job for us to do.

WHY? Why give us this task? After all, He is God and could do it entirely alone.  I believe the answer relies in LOVE and WORSHIP.

First to address love.  "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7  Love is so important that much of God's Word speaks of love.  There are all sorts of love but one particular that I am completely amazed by.  It is love for a complete stranger who you have never even set eyes upon. Someone so different from yourself but nonetheless loved completely.  I have had two opportunities during my life to experience this kind of love.  The first was for our daughter which we adopted from China. We loved her so much before we ever met her.  The second, amazed me even more. Recently, I sat reading my Bible. I don't remember the passages and they were completely unrelated. But during that time, God poured love into my heart overwhelming love for the Haitian people. I sobbed because the love was so strong and I knew it was from the Lord.  I have never been to Haiti and knew very little about them. None the less the love was real and has continued.

Then worship. . .As I said in a previous post, I am concerned about our worship.  Are we truly worshiping God (High Priest, Lord of Lords, Redeemer, Living Water, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, etc)? Or are we worshiping what we hope to obtain from Him (blessing, prosperity, easy life, success, etc)?  I think the prosperity of the USA often gets in the way of our worship. Compared to other countries, we have had life easy. I want to propose that when we are obedient to the Great Commission, our worship changes. It becomes less about us and more about Him.

GETTING STARTED & MAKING A DIFFERENCE. . . Personally, we are starting with small steps.  We know an amazing couple (who by no coincidence) are raising support to be full-time Haitian missionaries.  So we are giving financially.  But we have also been convicted that you must go. So we are beginning to plan a mission trip to Haiti as well.  This is not in our comfort zone but clearly God's hand is upon it.

Now I have to tell you a bit about the Runks.

They are just an ordinary family who have slowly been transformed into an ordinary family who are crazy in love with Christ and the Haitian people.  To see a grown man cry as he tells you about the plight of this people group is overwhelming.  But they have given it all over to Christ that He might use them as He sees fit.  As a result, they have an opportunity to help carry to Gospel to one of the poorest and most lost countries in the world.  The opportunity they have is immense. The size only God could provide.  There is tremendous amounts of work to be done and already many resources are in place.  But to see these people begin a 4am worship service which has 45 minutes of just prayer and then last for hours makes it all worth it!

Here is a video to tell you about the ministry they are a part of:


There  is only one reason that we remain on this earth and not in His presence right now. There is work to be done.  There are currently approximately 4.5 BILLION people who do not know Christ. Yes, 4.5 Billion!   Have you gotten to a point where you wonder if you are doing enough?  Have you found satisfaction in your job, home, family, etc? What is success? Is it a feeling or a certain level of success in __________ ? I believe that the only real success, the only real difference to be made is in sharing the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ (His death and Resurrection) with the world.

I pray that you will consider this as well. There are so many ways to support missions and get involved. . .what will you do? Please pray for God's direction.  If you would like more information about the work in Haiti, then visit the Runks Website. They are looking for people to share the burden by coming to work or supporting the work financially. Most of all, they covet your prayers.  They are completely dependent on God to provide their every need and safety.  Please commit them to prayer daily.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why is it Radical?

I think that is a question that we should all ask ourselves.  I was recently going through the book "Radical" by David Platt for the second time. This time it struck me more so than the first.  This time I realized that I no longer care what is considered the norm.  I want to please God. I want to be obedient to Him in ways that challenge everything I know.  I want EVERYTHING to be about Him. I am talking total and complete reckless abandon of life as I know it so that I might be a slave to Christ.

I have felt for a while that the USA is loosing (or has lost) the favor of God. If you don't understand what that means, I urge to dig through the stories of Kings and Kingdoms in the Old Testament.  Those who had favor won wars, had their needs met and many of their wants met. Those who did not lost mercilessly.

At the end of this book David Platt  issues an experimental challenge.  There are simply five things that you must do.

1) Pray for the World -  He gives you more specific guidelines but nothing changes a heart like prayer.

2) Read the Bible through in one year.  Ask yourself, is it possible to go to church multiple times per week and not know the Bible? Most of us need not look beyond ourselves to know the answer is yes.

3) Give sacrificially. This needs to be more than is comfortable and in such a way that it aids the spread of the Gospel.

4)  Spend time outside your home plate ministering. Just a small commitment but step away from where you live.

5) Commit yourself not just to a church but to a multiplying community of believers. The key to this is that people are being saved and growing.  This is not about filling the seats.

Reading through this book, it goes into so much detail and you can then understand why each part of the experiment is critical.  But I ask, why is this RADICAL?  Why is it not the norm?

For me and maybe for others, I believe I have an answer.  It is because we do not focus on God.  It should ALL be about Him.  I think (hope) that most who call themselves Christian worship God, pray, and attend church.  But I realized that often my prayer or worship is based on what I hope to gain. I want to feel His presence more than anything.  I want to be overwhelmed with His love. I want Him to control my life and make it pleasant.  But look. . . that is still all about me. So I asked myself, "Is it true worship, if I am thinking about how I will feel when God acknowledges me at His thrown.' Wow, this is hard.  Die to self. To fully worship, love and serve. . .I must fully die to self.

I urge you if this rings true for you to get this book asap.  Let us as believers give God all that we can of ourselves. How much of yourself will you give to the one who gave you everything? Let's get radical!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sitting in Daddy's Lap

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" Romans 8:15-16


The past weeks have been stressful. Honestly, that is an understatement.  We have one son preparing for Air Force boot camp, one making college choices, our home is for sale, and many unspokens.  Just one of the events in our life would be enough to cause havoc to many a household. I wish I could say that I have dealt with it always as a spiritually mature Christian should, but that would not be the truth. At times, I have had such peace.  At other times, I have felt more like a spoiled child that is not getting their way.  The ironic part is that this attitude goes against all God has been showing me recently. Over and over His message has been about understanding true worship and who He is.

First addressing who God is to us.  The Bible tells us that He is our Abba.  Abba was a term used in Judaism to express the intimacy, security, and tenderness of a family relationship. More specifically, it was a word that children used to address their fathers.   It was an expression of warm affection and trust. Of course, it didn't preclude courtesy and respect.  That is why He is also our Father which means that we must recognize His authority over us.

Either or both of these can be hard for us to grasp. So much of how we feel about our relationship with God depends on our relationship with our earthly father.  While God models this role for earthly fathers, He is PERFECT.  His love is a pure holy perfect love for us. Even if your earthly father failed you in some way, your Abba Father will not.

True worship. . . Hum. This is the hard part for we must give everything.  We must be what is called "a living sacrifice".  Romans 12:1 says, "I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him." God wants all of us. That is, He wants us fully submitted and willing to give anything or even all we have. He wants us to love Him more than anything else and to be willing to serve Him in any way.  Honestly, that is something missing with most all of us.  Just ask yourself. . .when was the last time you fell on your face before the Lord.  How long were you there? Were you counting the minutes? Or were you just there completely submitted enjoying the presence of God.  Psalm 51:17 says, "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." Oh how I long to be able to go before Him daily with a fully repentant humble spirit of full submission. . .how I long to be a living sacrifice putting selfish desires aside.

Understanding and doing all this, for me, is a process. Sometimes it is pretty and sometimes it is really ugly.  I give myself and then jerk it back.  Plus I find the World so confusing. I admit that I care far too much about what others do and what others think. In todays world where few find true worship with God, you could easily be seen as a lunatic. But at what price are we looking sane?  Let's ask ourselves, "What is God asking us to do that we are choosing to disobey?' It may be simple as going to the alter to pray on Sunday or lifting your hand in worship. Or it may be something so much bigger.

For me, that disobedience has been not fully trusting God with all the stuff of life.  But God has been so good to me. He has gently reminded and beckoned me to sit upon Abba's lap to find comfort and peace.  It is there that He is pealing back the layers that have so fully weighed me down.  As each burdensome layer is removed to reveal new trust. . .I am more willing and able to be His living sacrifice. Who knew that being sacrificial could be freeing?  Thank you Abba Father that I can live for you and let you take care of the details.