Embrace this God-life

It seems like for the past 5 years I have been running around in the same circle.  The circle I’ve been running now is well marked.  Kind of like the rut you find on the ground around a merry-go-round at the park.

Faith.  What does it mean to live by faith?  Do you really know what that means? That’s what I ask myself… and anyone else that may be listening.  I have these set of verses that keep coming up as I read the Bible.  It’s the same set over the past 5 years that keep surfacing.  My heart races a bit when I read them.  I remember situations in the past when I read them, prayed, waited, and acted. 

Read Mark 11:22-25 with me,

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”  (The Message).

“Embrace this God-life.”  I continue to hold on.  I question, “Do I really have faith?”  Mark 9:23-24 is another set of verses that continue to come across my eyes when I read Scripture,

23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

 24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

There’s this cry for something from within me… something that reaches out that gives me the assurance of meaning and purpose – which leads to me knowing I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  This comes so easy for some… and so difficult for me. 

I think a part of the problem for me revolves around one of the words found in the Mark 11 verses listed above.  “Forgiveness”.  If I’m going to really embrace this God-life I’ve got to let some things go… and forgive.

Let Love In (updated)

The message of love permeates the world at this time every year.  Can you hear it?  Do you hear the message?  Or are you lost in the packages, parties, and pressures? 

The message is this… God came to this world wrapped up in flesh.  He is Emmanuel “God with us”.  He lived and walked this earth as a man.  Now we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  He came so that we could be made right with God… he came as a Savior to set us free from our sin and death.

In the midst of the Season, do you hear Him calling?  Speaking?  Do you hear Him calling you to Himself? 

I struggle with forgiveness.  I want to be a forgiving person… one that can let the past remain in the past.  Today I want to forgive and let love in.  Whatever you find yourself struggling with – let the love of Jesus Christ in – he will forgive and the Holy Spirit will fill you.

FOCUS: December 2008… HOPE

Hope is the word that lingers in my head these days.  There’s a lot of people in need of hope.  Hope in conquering the past, the present, and the fears of the future.  Hope…

I watched and interview yesterday on CBN.  CBN’s guest was Glenn Beck.  They were talking about his new book, The Christmas Sweater.  It was a very emotional interview… full of redemption and hope.  As I enter into December 2008, I am going to focus on hope.

Romans 5:1-5 in the Message,

1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

 3-5There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Trust

After reading a passage in Psalms and reflecting on some things in and around my life – I have begun some evaluation.  These are some random questions I began to ask myself:

  • Who do I trust?  Why?
  • Do I trust anyone with everything about me?  Or do I pick and choose certain people depending on the circumstance?
  • How do I know when someone is trustworthy? 
  • What are the traits of someone who is trust worthy?
  • Once trust has been broken – How does someone regain my trust? Is it possible?

trust [truhst]

reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

God is all strength for his people,
      ample refuge for his chosen leader;
   Save your people
      and bless your heritage.
   Care for them;
      carry them like a good shepherd. (Psalm 28:8-9, The Message).

I know at times in life (family, church, job, and other relationships) it is tough to trust.  To have full confidence in someone else can be a scary thing.  Especially if one of those people or institutions has broken that trust.  I think sometimes I am too trusting of others… almost to the point of being naive.  Although, lately I have been catching myself being very skeptical of putting a lot of trust in others.  I don’t like being like that. 

I had surgery on my arm and back this year.  I had these lypoma’s removed.  All is well with me and the places where they were removed.  The strange thing is that I am very guarded still about those two areas on my body.  There was some damage there in the past.  It has been dealt with… yet I still want to protect them especially when someone touches either area.  I don’t even like to touch those places either.

Being hurt or let down by others will make anyone skeptical of putting total trust on the line once again. Does this keep you from trusting God?

I was reading Psalm 28 and this idea of trust came to my mind.  I thought about a few words in the two verses listed above.  (Strength, refuge, save, care for, and carry.)  I asked myself these questions: 

Do I really rely on His strength?  Do I trust Him to be my refuge or fortress?  Do I trust Him to save me?  Do I have confidence that He cares for me?  When I know I’m at the end of my strength do I trust He will carry me?

Ma`owz – fortress

(As found in Psalm 28:8)

place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold

  1. place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold
  2. refuge (of God) (Crosswalk.com Bible Study Tools).

When the world all around seems so unstable – Look to God… trust Him with your life!  He loves us both so much!  Run to safety trust the LORD to carry you.

Unfinished Business

During the lunch break on Thursday I was standing there and Tim said something to me like this, “Are you OK?  You look like you are in deep thought or something is bothering you…” 

I was OK.  I think I was stunned after that first message.  Andy Stanley talked about 3 specific things and how they relate to doing ministry.  They are:  Forgiveness, Family, and Finances.  God really got my attention right off the bat.

Just moments prior to Stanley’s talk I had a conversation about forgivenss.  Then to hear Stanley talk about it I was dumb-founded.  I was in shock… it was as if he had just read my mail… like he had been listening in on my conversation… this was such a God moment for me.  Literally I thought I was the only one in the room.  The element of Finances was the other key point to this power-packed threesome of points. As a family, we have made some decisions on this as well.

The mess was cleaned up with each message I heard afterward. Now that I am home I am trying to figure out what the purpose of all this was.  I think I know.  I am still praying through it.  I want to do what thus says the LORD.  I am making sure I’m not chasing after something Roye wants to do.

So I am back to making another decision.  I know Joel would have you think the decision still centers on whether I should wear Boxers or Briefs.  (If you need more info on this click here… then read the comments).

It’s kind of an exciting moment… not the choice of boxer or briefs.  That decision has been already made.

So, while we are on the subject I think I will try out this new feature here on wordpress…

Better than Gore-Tex

I don’t know what the latest and greatest material is these days… I can recall Gore-Tex being the material to wear when in the great outdoors.

Colossians 3:12-17 tells us what is the best thing to be clothed in.  It’s the one garment that has stood the test of time.  It doesn’t fade or go out of style.

12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

 15-17Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (The Message, Eugene Peterson).

Walk On

I just watched Saving Pvt. Ryan – again! 

I cried – again!

The sacrifice made by the WWII generation is something those of us who reap the benefit of freedom today will never be able to comprehend.  I’m thankful to those who served then… I’m thankful for those who serve now!

There have been so many lives given so that our Nation may be free… so that many in other nations may live in freedom. 

That last scene in the movie is so moving… it stirs the soul.  “Tell me I’ve lived a good life.”  Those men gave their lives to save this one Private. 

When it is all said and done the bottom line is… How did you live?  What have you done with what you have been given in this life.

We can work and work and work some more… we can gain all the stuff our houses can hold… but without love what’s it worth?  Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”(Mark 8:36, NIV).

I was listening to U2 this weekend.  “Walk On” always moves me.  I was driving down the road while it was playing.  I leaned over to my oldest daughter and said, “Look, this song does this to me every time.” 

I love the first verse,

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind (From, “Walk On”, U2)

At times, I find it so hard to love.  To put aside all the “stuff” that goes on in and around my life.  I find it hard to put down the troubles and let love rule in my heart.  Jesus is the source of true love.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 13:15, NIV).

We all have something greater than ourselves to live for… to sacrifice our lives for.