Can you see what God is doing?

Have you ever ridden the log ride at Six Flags or at some other park? 

Lately my life has seemed much like I am riding a log ride (just not as fun).  My life is in motion bumping up against the parameters (or shall I say the principles) of life.  All the while, I know there is a destination out there that I will arrive at.  As Oswald Chambers puts it, I’m living my life based on principles rather than vision.

There is a difference between holding on to a principle and having a vision. A principle does not come from moral inspiration, but a vision does.

Our own idealistic principles may actually lull us into ruin. Examine yourself spiritually to see if you have vision, or only principles. (My Utmost for His Highest, May 9).

How do you live your life?  Do you get up everyday and hop onto the log ride of the expected routine in life or do you live it a bit more dangerously with a spiritual vision?  I know it seems like I have settled into the log ride and today am being challenged to get off of the ride and jump into a raft and conquor an uncharted river.  The Holy Spirit will be the guide and he will provide the vision.

Many years ago I went white water rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.  I was nervous and stressed the entire time.  The water was freezing, the rapids were rough, and I had to trust the guide.  At times, I even got angry with the guide because I thought he was intentionally sending us through rougher water when it wasn’t necessary.

I realize in life I do the same thing.  At times, I get upset and angry with where this course is taking me.  I want to point a finger at the Holy Spirit and say, “Why didn’t you tell me to dig earlier?”  I’m quick to forget that He is teaching me as I go.  He allows the rough waters in my life and I need to learn from them. 

I have come to know when He is telling me to do something.  I have learned His voice.  But I haven’t overcome my fear of taking risks in following Him.  I like the log ride.  I know what I will experience in the log.  As for the the raft, there’s a risk and I will have to trust the Guide.

Have you lost the excitement for living?  Your job? Ministry? Family?  Read Proverbs 29:18,

  If people can’t see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed. (The Message)

I know the following quote is from a message on marriage.  But it is applicable to any aspect of life that pertains to personal passion.  Job. Family. Ministry.  Whatever!  We all get involved in doing something based on how it makes us feel but to keep it going and alive there must be a plan… a vision.  It’s the plan that will keep you moving forward.

“Falling in love requires a pulse, staying in love requires a plan.” (Andy Stanley).

Are you following the vision for your life?  Or have you decided to remain comfortable with where you are?

How to live in the fog

Life can often get a bit hazy… like a fog.  Sometimes it gets so thick you just have to sit tight and wait for the fog to lift.  In Exodus Israel followed God in the cloud.  Maybe we should take a closer look at that.  They moved when the cloud moved.  They stayed put when the cloud settled. 

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes,

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (The Message).

So, are you leaving in a fog? 

Three things to keep you focused (1 Corinthians 13:13):

  1. Trust steadily in God
  2. Hope unswervingly
  3. Love extravagantly

Do you need a break today?

It’s interesting how each person that follows Jesus is so different. The gifts given, the personalities, and purposes for each person are all different. God is very personal with each person. Even the circumstances in life are different for each person. For some, it may seem like everything in life always goes their way. Another look at the human race it may seem like there are others that always struggle and have difficulties… never getting a break.

Why is it that some seemingly have no problems and all they touch turns to gold or at best stays steady moving forward? Why is it that others seem to never get a break?

It’s the same thing when I look at churches. Most churches get to a certain place with the number of people attending. And they just maintain that number… sometimes they will hit a growth spurt and leadership is gelling and moving forward then BAM roadblock… people leave and move on and continue on elsewhere or they get frustrated with the whole church thing and just drop out. Then there are those churches that start up and never look back… they grow and grow. The staff grows, changes, and grows some more.

Do you ever find yourself frustrated? Like there is something else that you should be doing… or that you just aren’t fitting in with what you are doing or where you are serving? Do you think that maybe you are doing something that God really didn’t intend for you to do… thus bringing on the frustration and roadblocks?

In Psalms 73we read about the frustrations of Asaph.  I’ve read it several times in the past couple of days. Do you relate to the thoughts of Asaph? What about in verses 11-14?

  What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
      Nobody’s tending the store.
   The wicked get by with everything;
      they have it made, piling up riches.
   I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
      what has it gotten me?
   A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
      a slap in the face every time I walk out the door. (The Message).

Look and see just how Asaph ends this Psalm in verses 25-28.

You’re all I want in heaven!
      You’re all I want on earth!
   When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
      God is rock-firm and faithful.
   Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
      Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
   But I’m in the very presence of God
      oh, how refreshing it is!
   I’ve made Lord God my home.
      God, I’m telling the world what you do! (The Message).

I don’t know why (but for some) things just seem so easy – and for others it’s incredibly difficult. Wherever you find yourself I encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus. Stay focused.  Give all of your attention and worship to Jesus.

If it’s difficulties you are faced with remember the words of Jesus to John the Baptist’s disciples just before John was beheaded, “You’ll be blessed if this does not cause you to fall away.”  God can and will get you through anything… it just may be in a different way than what you are expecting.

A time of waiting…

I can’t state it any better than Oswald Chambers.  My words I have tried to put together are worthless to go with this quote.  So, I’ll just let Chambers do the talking. 

There are times when you can’t understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don’t fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification— to be set apart from sin and made holy— or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God gives you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt— wait.

At first you may see clearly what God’s will is— the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, or something else you feel is distinctly God’s will for you to do. But never act on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will cause difficult situations to arise which will take years to untangle. Wait for God’s timing and He will do it without any heartache or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move. (My Utmost for His Highest, January4).

Crossroads

Are you familiar with the ending to the movie “Cast Away”?  Tom Hanks is standing there in the middle of this intersection in the middle of Nowhere, TX.  As far as he can see in all directions is nothing – yet he has been given the gift of life to be lived another day.  How would you chose to decide where to go?  I would have followed the truck with the wings. 

We all find ourselves at places in life where we are at an intersection and we aren’t sure which way to go.  In the movie, he isn’t sure where he is going to go.  He pauses and gets out of the Jeep with his map and ponders for a moment or two.  During this moment of contemplation is when the person he was looking for drives up.  

I wonder how many times in life we come to crossroads and ignore it and just keep driving our lives right on through.  Or – how often do we get there – and recognize it… and then we get stuck there afraid to move at all.  Maybe there has been a bad decision in the past and fearful of getting burned again.  

No matter the reason or how you respond to the situation it is still a decision that must be faced and made.  How do you make the decision?  What steps do you take?  Do you get the Road Map out?  In my life, the Map has become God’s Word found in the Bible.  No, it doesn’t tell me to turn right or left and any specifics like that at all.  I can say the Holy Spirit gives insight I can’t explain.  Which is often followed by a peace I can’t explain. 

Jesus tells us in John 14:25-27,

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (The Message).

I’ve personally been at a crossroad for a long time now.  I have ventured in a couple of directions already to find that the peace and fulfillment were not in any direction I have tried thus far.  I keep going back to the Cross and asking for direction.  I am asking for wisdom… wisdom to be used for His glory and for the leadership of my family.

The Holy Spirit will teach us all things.  He will give all that we have need of.  He cares intimately about the details of our lives.  He will not leave us lonely in the dark.  Jesus instructed his disciples: 

“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks! (John 16:23-24).

One of the decisions I have made for the year to come is to follow a plan to read the Bible through in a year.  I have done this in the past and grew a lot from reading it completely during the year.  I have already begun the reading plan I am going to follow.  I want to be on track when the New Year begins and get off to a GREAT start.  I’m hoping to find in 2009 where and how God intends to use me.

I know He uses me through my job… even though I can’t directly communicate His Word… I live it.  I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to influence others in all aspects of my life.  I want to continue to do so full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

2009: A Look Forward – in Your eyes

Hope as defined by Dictionary.com as a noun is wrapped up in “feelings.”  But as a verb: 

  • To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
  • To believe, desire, or trust.

Hebrews 10:19-25,

So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. (The Message).

Are you looking toward the future or is your vision on the here and now?  I’m trying to gain all I can today from yet another extremely rare moment of quiet.  It’s rather nice.  The only light in the room is from the Christmas tree.  My heart is set on the hope of things yet to come – in Jesus Christ.

I am reading Psalm 139.  Take a moment to read the chapter.  Psalm 139:1, “God, investigate my life, get all the facts firsthand.  I’m an open book to you.” (The Message). 

I’ve never been one to make a lot of goals or plans for the beginning of the “New Year.”  Why not?  I do this (it seems like) all of the time already.  So, this year I’m going to go about it a bit differently.  I am already making some plans to implement for my life beginning January 1, 2009.  But before I get into that I would like to look at Psalm 139 as it pertains to my thoughts and direction.

I have been focused on the meaning and purpose of the life of Jesus Christ…  His redeeming mankind and making a way for all mankind to have a relationship with God.  I’ve been focused on his Holy Spirit (John 16) and the reason the Holy Spirit is in our lives today…  The power, confidence, and hope He gives.

As I read Psalm 139, I’m asking God to take a deep look into my life.  To look at all of it – inside and out.  I’m asking Him to see all of the highs and lows and to search me out east to west.  I am an open book to Him.  I am one of the verses in His book that is still being written in Acts 29.

I’ve also looked ahead into My Utmost for His Highest to see what Oswald Chambers has said on this subject and Psalm 139:

The psalmist implies— “O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.” (January 9).

I know, “I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize.” without God taking a deep look into my life.  Without Him searching the darkest places and shining His light.  As I look toward the coming New Year, I’m asking God to prepare my heart for the plans He has for me.  I want to live in the power of His hope and walk boldly – with confidence – into His plans.

One of my prayers for the past couple of months – as I drive in my car – has been the following.  These are the words from the first verse and chorus of “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.  I have capitalized the word You and made it personal to God and want to share it.

love, I get so lost sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
when I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place You are

all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in Your eyes
the light the heat
in Your eyes
I am complete
in Your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in Your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in Your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in Your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in Your eyes

 

As I begin this look forward, I start with asking God to search my heart.  As He begins this search and reveals to me Himself – I will prepare for the year to come.  I will make the plans and take the steps necessary.  I look forward to complete fulfillment in the coming year – walking in His power for His glory.