Faith… Day 189

Day 189 of the year 2016.  Most of this was written on Day 1 of this year… Yep, I never posted it – just like the other 60 posts that have never made it out of the draft file.  So, I will raise the question, how are you doing with all that you pondered, contemplated, and wanted to change back on Day 1?

Day one of a new year.  I think I began this year with a new tradition for December 31… go to bed REAL early! I slept just over 11 hours that night and woke up feeling great!! Well, with the exception of the mild sore throat and slight cough.

Just as I have with with New Years resolutions, I have wanted to avoid the sensationalism of the “WORD for the YEAR.”  However, I must confess, I have had a word for my life for years.  (Way before before it became the thing to do).  Just like everything else in the Christian life there are many books, blogs, and apps to help you discover your word for the year.  I get it. It’s a New Year and with everything being new it’s time to focus on something new.

But what if the old is still not resolved?  Do you move on?  Or do you dig down deeper?  Do you fight for that which you haven’t attained or learned?

FAITHOver the years,”my word” has been more like a “theme for the season.”  Typically the word coincides with the season of my life more so than for the year.  That season can start and end at any time throughout the year.  It is what God is wanting to build down deep in my heart.

In late Summer, 2014, “joy” became a focus for my life.  I had hoped to unpack all that God wanted for me in joy during 2015.  But as I approached the Fall of 2015 I was still wondering, searching, and reading about it.  What do I lack that is missing in my life that keeps me from experiencing real joy?

It was on my journey to New Mexico in August 2015 that allowed me get a glimpse of what is holding me back.  I got a glimpse of what is missing but I’m unclear as to where the bridge is to get me from here to there.

So, in the midst of my journey of re-discovering Joy, another theme began to arise within the past month or so.  And yes, that leads me to a “WORD for the YEAR.”  FAITH.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith and not by sight.” I re-discovered in 2015 that joy is best experienced in obedience to the will of God.  It was confirmed again this summer (2016) through obedience to go on a mission trip.

As this life of joy continues to grow through obedience by faith, I will leave you with one more verse that is impacting my life right now from another book in the Bible written by Paul,

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)

So, if you started off Day 1 without a word for the year or some kind of focus you can always start on Day 189.  Don’t be discouraged.  Even though it’s not New Year’s Day, God is not done with you or me.  It may be Day 189 but it can be the start of something new and grand in your life today.

The above picture is from my journal.  It was inspired while I was taking notes from a sermon by Rick Warren sometime in 2015.

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Walking into the presence of God

Walking in the presence of God
Walking in the presence of God

Walking with God is not always as clear as we would like for it to be.  But then, maybe we shouldn’t desire for it to be clear.  Walking with God is about trusting Him… trusting his Son, Jesus, to be who he has destined to be in our lives. And allowing the Holy Spirit to have total freedom to lead and empower as He desires.

Today, I went for a hike on a rainy day up Pine Mountain.  As I walked up the mountain, I thought of Moses and wondered what it was like for him to walk up to spend time with God in such an intimate way.  I’m no Moses but as I approached the clouds I asked God to surround me and let me walk with Him up there.  I didn’t descend the mountain with stone tablets or a specific word to share with His people, but rather an assurance He is with me.

GOD said to Moses, “Get ready. I’m about to come to you in a thick cloud so that the people can listen in and trust you completely when I speak to you.”  (Exodus 19:9, The Message).

Even though our lives don’t seem to make sense at times – or the outcomes aren’t as we planned – or the answer to prayer didn’t come in a way we wanted it to – He is with us.  I captured the moment in this picture.  I thought about how much this path represents life… my life.  As I reflect upon this afternoon,

Walking into the future is much like this path. I’m asking God to fall on me and my path as the clouds did today on the mountain. Totally enveloped by His presence.

I give you my life…

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I give you my life and all that I am  – But what have I to give  – So I hand you a candid photograph of this little boy  – ’cause I have nothing to my name  – But I can give you that. (Derek Webb, “Somewhere North”).  Photo taken while I was in Seminary (1994).

I began this post several days ago in “Where’s my Mind?”  While praying that day my thoughts went back to those days while in seminary.  It was a tremendous time of growth and testing.  (I’m not just talking about all the tests I had to take either).  God allowed quite a few tests in my life outside of the classroom.

So I hand You a candid photograph of this little boy  – ’cause I have nothing to my name…

If you spend anytime around me at all, you will know I talk alot about the past… probably too much.  The past that I think about is full of dreams serving the Lord.  Those dreams aren’t gone.  But God has me living in a new day. I choose to give Him my life.  To stand firm and to not let life steal what He purposed to give.  I choose to grow where He plants. 

If you do not read Oswald Chambers devotional My Utmost for His Highest, I highly recommend making it a part of your daily life along with reading your Bible.  These are a couple of quotes from today’s devotional,

“Consider the lilies of the field . . .” (Matthew 6:28). They grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don’t take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things…

…Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?. (January 26).

But I can give you that.

Where’s my mind?

It’s somewhere north of here!

There are a few songs I really like to listen to when I drive… especially when I am going through a contemplative season.  It’s that season again.  “Somewhere North” by Derek Webb is one of those songs. 

It’s a muggy night in Houston
And all the intersections are like full service stations
I’m on my way to a familiar place
It’s cold in Kansas City
And you can no more hear me than I can see your face
How I wish it was just you and me

We wouldn’t have to talk above the crowd
We wouldn’t have to talk so loud

Chorus
I give you my life and all I am
But what have I to give
So I hand you a candid photograph of this little boy
‘Cause I have nothing to my name
But I can give you that

I don’t miss the driving
Seems like forever
And I’m always driving in my mind
And wearing out the road that gets me there

And I’m driving till my eyes just can’t see straight
But I suppose that it’s getting late

Chorus

I may never find the sleep
I’ve lost all feeling in my hands and
Feet may touch the ground but
My mind’s somewhere north of here

I saw Derek Webb perform at Berry College with Joel and Jason last winter.  Webb was awesome!  I don’t recall if he sang this or not… I assume this song is about a relationship with a girl.  I have another take on it for my life and will write about it in Part Two.

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.