Changing of the Season

It has been a mild Winter here this year.  As for cycling, I had gotten off to a great year of getting miles in.  In fact, my best January ever.  We had a hint of Spring most of the year.  Then it hit… a COLD snap that I wasn’t expecting nor desiring.  It had felt so good all year until we had a blast of winter.  I pushed through some of the cold and stayed on the bicycle.  I also ended up sick for about 3 weeks or so and the cough still lingers.

I stood outside just as the sun was beginning to rise Saturday morning.  The noise that filled the air was music to my ears and brought a smile upon my face as I stood there sipping on my coffee.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of Matthew 6:26.

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.  And you count far more to him than birds. (The Message).

My body was getting accustomed to the mild temperatures this winter just to be shocked by the normal temperatures of winter – I considered my own life as I listened this morning.

Seasons come and go.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the pretty, the unwanted, the challenges, the miracles, the blessings, the growth, and death are all a part of life.  None of it should ever really catch us off guard.  But for some reason it does and we experience a various array of emotions in response to the circumstance.  We get comfortable in our seasons.  And when the turbulence in the atmosphere occurs at the change of a season we run, hide, and seek shelter from the approaching storm.

Earlier this week I saw on Facebook that my wife stated, “Why does life have to be so hard?”  Yes, we are in the midst of a tough season in life.  Doctor visits, dentists, car wreck, 3 cars that have broken down (make that 4 since I started writing this), bills, etc.  Yet, I sit here and consider the good health, the miracle of no injury in that totaled Honda… there is good in the midst of the tough season we walk through.  Even as I held my youngest daughter the other night as she was sick and sleeping – I cherished the moment.

I know holding her won’t always be an option when she is sick.  She will grow out of kindergarten, go to elementary school, high school, college, and eventually get married… That’s what the others have done.  With each changing of the season they grow up.  They experience new normals in life and they too will grow from the changing of seasons.  I know she was comforted as I held her and I found much joy in the moment.

I can’t help but think God feels much the same way when we relax and surrender to His loving arms and let Him hold us when we are going through a tough time.  No, I didn’t do anything to heal my daughter.  I prayed over her, held her, and was there with her as she went through that moment of sickness.  Some times God intervenes in our lives and provides the miraculous for His purposes in our lives.  Other times I think He sits with us as I did my daughter and comforts us through the situation.

Wherever you find yourself today.  Remember, just as the birds of the air: don’t sow, reap, or gather into barns… our heavenly Father feeds them and takes care of them.  This Spring take a moment to sit quietly by yourself and listen to the birds of the air and let Him speak to you.

How much more will he take care of you and I?

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Encouraging faith around the toilet

The past several months have been some of the best months I have experienced in a long time.  Why? Read on…

Over the past couple of years (and maybe more), I have struggled to see where God is, where I am in God, and where it is I belong.  I have sought the Lord.  I have prayed and read the Bible.  I have read devotionals.  I have talked with friends.  I have gone to church and attended Sunday School. I have attempted to teach a couple of times. And earlier this summer I went on a mission trip where I believe things began to change. I had about given up.

I’m in the midst of reading 1 Kings right now in the Old Testament.  While reading, 1 Kings 17 – 19, I read about Elijah: A man who speaks with the Lord, fed by ravens and angels, a man of prayer, used by God to raise the dead, prayed for rain in a little whose God is bigger tournament on Mount Carmel, and a man, when challenged, was afraid.

I can relate to Elijah… especially as it pertains to running from my fear.  When Elijah was challenged by Jezebel he ran in fear.  In 1 Kings 19:13, “And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?”  I’m pretty sure I have heard that in my own spirit before as well.  There are a few other things that stand out to me this morning in the midst of his fear.

  1. The Lord was with him.
  2. He was not forgotten.
  3. God still had a purpose, work, and a plan with his life.
  4. There was nothing too big God can’t overcome.
  5. God wanted him to mentor someone else (Elisha)

God has been speaking to me lately in so many wonderful ways.  If you are new to faith in Jesus or are seeking to understand who Jesus is, I want you to know I don’t hear him audibly.  I see/hear Him as I read His Bible.  I hear him as I contemplate and pray over and through His Word (Bible). I hear Him speak to me through other Christians and circumstances in my life.  I personally love to have a spot where I can sit, pray, and read the Bible.  It’s our meeting place.  If you don’t have a place where you meet with God I encourage you to find a place and ask the Lord to meet you there.

So, what does this have to do with faith and a toilet?  I’m looking to tackle a couple of little projects around the house.  I met with a good friend last night to discuss some of those things he may help me with.  The toilet was on my list.  I had looked at this toilet a couple of times by myself.  (I really hate working on things like this).  The couple of times I had looked at it by myself I never saw what the problem was.  I just thought I was going to have to replace all the stuff in the back of the toilet.

Well, last night he pulled the lid off and I stood there looking at it from a different angle.  A new perspective so to speak.  Immediately, I saw what the problem was.  The little chain was keeping the rubber-flapper-deal from closing all the way which was keeping the water running.  BAM, problem solved!! Thanks Randy!!

Why couldn’t I see that before?  I don’t know.  But the lesson is that we need others in our lives so we can see life from a different perspective.  Randy and I have met together for years (almost once a week) to share with each other from the Bible, a book we are reading, prayer, and just to plain-ole talk.  We have taken a little break from that the last couple of years but God has brought us back to our meeting time in recent weeks.  I’m so glad He did.  I need fresh perspective in my life.  And I need to be able to share with someone else what God is teaching me.  Our meeting time is one of real encouragement.

If you don’t have someone you meet with I highly encourage you to find someone to share with.  Maybe you need to seek someone out who needs a friend that you can mentor.  Or maybe you need an Elijah in your life to help you grow in your faith and understanding of God.

Until next time… Roye

 

 

Finish the race

When you step back to take a look at your life, what do you see? How do you evaluate your place or position?  What tool do you use to measure in order to see if you are where you need to be or want to be in life?

There are many voices and tools “out there” to give us the help and guidance in life to get us from where are to where we really want to be… or more importantly, to where God wants us to be.  For me, the greatest tool is reading the Bible.  I find direction, strength, hope, and encouragement in the words I read there.  Reading the Bible is a discipline that I must not neglect and must be a part of daily living.Run the Race

I was recently challenged to think about what my ideal life looks like.  As I began to think about my response, I thought back to the 4th grade.  I was sitting in a room in my house and I recall thinking, “I’m not going to be like that.” I can recall the voice of my dad saying he wish he had made other choices about his career.  I can recall the career path he would have preferred over the one he was on at the time.  In my pursuit of God and living in obedience, I struggle with keeping of my stride since it has been broken.

“How you see your future is more important than what has happened in your past.”  Zig Ziglar

I’m involved in quite a few really “good” things.  I visited one of those recently.  I walked out of that meeting and overwhelmed at the need in our community and the task that is set before them.  The thought kept rising in my mind that they are Jesus in their corner of our county.  They are literally being his hands and his feet.  Reaching out to those who can’t feed themselves.  I was unsure about what my experience would be as I drove onto the property.  I drove away challenged.

I once was a competitive long distance runner.  I recall the feeling of having someone break my stride because they cut me off.  It was a breaking of my stride physically and mentally.  I could get my physical stride back pretty easily but, at times, it was the mental portion of it I would have difficulty over coming.  I can recall dwelling on what had just happened and that becoming my focus over the race being run.

You are never a failure until you quit. Resist discouragement and finish the race God has set before you. -Rick Warren, Uncommon Courage Devotional.

I mentioned earlier there are a lot of tools to help us on our journey in life.  God’s Word is the greatest of those… His word is truth.  At times, each of us have moments when someone or something breaks into our lane and breaks our stride.  Keeping our eyes intently focused in the Word of God will help us to keep our focus.  The Holy Spirit will use those words to lead us where God wants us.

If you are in a place in life where someone has cut you off and broken your stride, now is the time to bring life back into focus.  Looking toward the goal that has been set within your heart.  “You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7, NIV).  Don’t let the distractions of this world, the words of others, or the actions of others break your stride.  Keep running.

His blessings are beautiful…

Last Sunday I sat on the deck early for prayer and coffee.  I began to read over one of the passages I was going to use in the message I was speaking at church.  As I read, Matthew 6:25-34, I could hear all of the birds in the trees throughout my backyard.  The incredible sound began to overtake my attention.  For a few moments all I could think about were all of those birds.  Jesus said,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

God takes care of the needs of those birds I could hear singing.  He cares for our needs as well.  I say “His blessings are beautiful…” because God deeply cares for all of our needs.  Lent this year was such a powerful time.  One of the great blessings that came my way when I wasn’t looking was my pastor and Expedition Church.  This all came about shortly after the beginning of Lent.  We ran into each other at a restaurant on a Friday night.  I visited on Sunday…  3 months later, give or take a few days, I am speaking on a Sunday morning.  I know more opportunities will arise and God will continue to pour into me so I can in turn give to others.  That’s what is so beautiful about serving God.  He gives to His people – His people have a choice to do with what He has given.  To hold on to it or to share it.  It’s when we share what God has given us with others that our lives really are fulfilled.

Do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?  I encourage you to seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness.  Trust Him.  As you trust Him, be obedient to the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew,

  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.”

Who is your god?

I haven’t asked the question in awhile:  How are you doing with your Read through the Bible for 2009?  Are you on task with your goal for the year?  Have you begun to develop a healthy habit in reading the Bible?  I hope so!

The past several weeks have been tough for me.  My routine and schedule has been turned upside down.  I have been feeling a bit guilty for not staying on track with where I wanted to be.  Everyday I think, “I need to read the Bible.” 

Has reading the Bible become all about checking a box?  Or is reading the Bible drawing us closer and deeper in a relationship with Jesus? 

Of course, Oswald Chambers would have something to say on this!

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. (My Utmost for His Highest, May 12).

This was a great reality check for me.  Reading God’s Word should never be about getting through it – like some book.  God’s Word is His voice to us…  Providing truth, life, freedom, and correction.  The focus of our everyday reading should never be about just being able to say, “I read the Bible for the day.”  It needs to be about, “What does God want to say to me today?”

As you continue reading through the Bible this year, make sure you are spending time to draw closer to Him as you read.  Don’t trade God in for the Christian habit (god).

Love means that there are no visible habits— that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. (My Utmost for His Highest, May 12).

A sad face is good for the heart

I received a comment from my “Are you hungry?” post.  Instead of posting a lengthy comment there I have decided to write one here.  The question posted was, “Is it possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sad at the same time?”  There were several thoughts that came to mind as I read this question.  If anyone would like to add to the discussion please jump in. 

One thing about sadness and the Christian I believe is that the sadness should draw us closer to God.  Ecclesiastes 7:3 states, “Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.”(NIV).  I first came in contact with this verse back in the late 80’s when The Choir released their CD Chase the Kangaroo.  The song “Sad Face” has been a great inspiration to me over the years.

I loved the song then as I do now.  This verse puzzled me as a young believer.  I was in a church at the time that was very focused on the Holy Spirit.  (Can one get out of balance when it comes to the Holy Spirit?)  I felt as though when something “bad” happened to me that there was something wrong (with me)… like I wasn’t spiritual (enough) or I wasn’t as good as the other believers I hung out with…  Or I was out of God’s will.

I remember a night when I shared this verse sitting in the worship center with some of the youth and youth leaders.  I basically said then that it is OK to have issues of sadness, loneliness, etc… then quoted this verse.  But I didn’t understand what it really meant.  I had not ever drank from the cup of true sadness and hurt.

Before I go there lets look at John 16 where Jesus talks to his disciples about the coming work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says,

Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you…  (v 5-7).

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you…  (v. 13-15).

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (v. 20-24).

I think now I have come to understand sadness and how it relates to my walk with God as a Christian.  As a young believer in my late teens early 20’s, I had not had the opportunity to walk a road of real sadness, heartbreak, separatedness, etc.  Now that I am in my young 40’s I have had a taste of that road.  I think I am beginning to understand why sadness is allowed in the life of the Holy Spirit driven believer.  Jesus said, “Your grief will turn to joy.”  He goes on to say, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

As a Christian, I believe it is possible to become sad and to stay there – to live in sadness that ultimately leads to a depression.  Remember Jesus said, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  It’s in those times of sadness He wants us to come to Him.  It is through turning over that situation with trust to the Father so that the Counselor has opportunity to work in our lives.  If we choose to sit in our sadness we choose to stay focused on ourselves – which leads to bondage in self pity.

…the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 3).

I know there is so much more that can be said on this.  This is probably not even an answer to the question but rather the beginning of a dialogue on the subject.  Below is the song that I referenced above.

Sad Face by Steve Hindalong as performed by The Choir.  I think this song was written after Hindalong’s wife miscarried their baby.  You may also recognize the name Steve Hindalong as the co-writer of the song God of Wonders we have all come to love in our churches.

There’s a crystal in the window
Throwing rainbows around
There’s a girl by the mirror
And her feet won’t touch the ground
‘Cause she never saw the sky so bright
Isn’t that like a cloud, to come by night
Nevermind the sky
There’s a tear in her eye

A sad face is good for the heart
Go on cry, does it seem a cruel world?
A sad face is good for the heart of a girl
A sad face

There’s a woman in my kitchen
With a rainbow on her cheek
Well isn’t that a promise?
Still I never felt so weak
There’s a tiny spirit in a world above
Cradled so sweetly in our Father’s love
So you don’t have to cry
No there’s something in my eye

A sad face is good for the heart
Maybe just now I don’t understand
A sad face is good for the heart of a man
A sad face

A sad face is good for the heart
It’s alright you don’t have to smile
A sad face is good for the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
A sad face
A sad face…