Being made strong

The Bible says, “When I am weak, I am made strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

A piece of steel can’t say that.  When it fails…. it fails and people get hurt or even die.  And it’s final.

When we are weak, in a particular area of life, we also can experience hurt and pain as well as a variety of other emotions.  This weakness can hurt us and others around us.  Yet, in our deepest weakness, Jesus reminds us that in our weakness we are made strong.

When we come to the end of ourselves and turn to Jesus for our strength, understanding, and power, he will give us what we have need of in the moment.

As a cyclist, I know if I want to complete an event that is extremely difficult, I must train.  I must get myself prepared and ready to accomplish whatever it is I want to do.  Without the proper training, time, nutrition, and encouragement, I will not be able to do what I set out to do.

Finishing doesn’t happen overnight.  I plan for it.  I train for it. I suffer for it.  I get frustrated when setbacks come my way.  And, yes, things get in the way.  This year I got sick just 4 weeks before the event I was training for all year.  My body was in good shape but my mind was not.  I showed up to the event in shape physically – not mentally.  You have got to have both to reach your objective.  Even the best encouragement couldn’t help me overcome my own self doubts in my head.  I was there to do the 80 mile ride and settled for the 50.  The 50 was no cake walk with over 3500 ft of climbing – with one of the climbs over 8 miles long.  I completed a lesser ride but I did what I my mind said I could do.

I look around my life these days and I see many of the same fears and feelings I have had pretty much all of my life.  I’m not sure why I keep fighting these same things over and over.  Maybe I get tired and let my guard down.  I allow the stuff of life to get to me.  And, yes, Satan knows me well and knows when I am on a good track and uses individuals and circumstances to send me down from time to time. During ALL seasons of life, I must remember to surrender to Jesus….. hear his words “Come to me…”

I’ve been in training as a Christian for many years.  Too often, I still feel like a newbie.  Even so, I, just as you, need to heed the words of Jesus, “Come to me…”

“Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28). His word come means “to act.” Yet the last thing we want to do is come. But everyone who does come knows that, at that very moment, the supernatural power of the life of God invades him. The dominating power of the world, the flesh, and the devil is now paralyzed; not by your act, but because your act has joined you to God and tapped you in to His redemptive power. (My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, November 4).

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He found them sound asleep

Prayer… how serious are we with our prayer lives? Do we pray just enough to get us through the day?  To get our own needs met?  Just how serious are we about prayer?  Read Matthew 26:31-46.  Jesus was pretty serious…

I am hooked on 24!  I am thrilled that Jack is back!!  I just can’t get enough of the action and suspense that follows the life of Jack Bauer.  I am trying to get Lori hooked.  It’s too much for her to take. 

15 minutes before the show began tonight.  I fell asleep.  I woke up at 30 minutes into the program!  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  So I called a friend I knew would be watching and I got caught up.  My falling asleep was totally uncalled for!  I can’t forgive myself… could I not stay up just another 15 minutes?

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” (Matthew 26:40-41, The Message).

How do you live life?  Do you fly by the seat of your pants?  How much of your life is spent seeking God?  How ready are you for a spiritual battle?   Do you even know when a spiritual battle has begun around your life? 

Stay alert.  Keep watch.  Don’t fall into temptation. 

It’s time to be a warrior.

Prayer, intercession, calling out to God from within the depths our own hearts and souls with groaning that cannot be understood… 

At various times in our lives, our cirumstances often dictate how we pray.  I’m sure when Jonah was first thrown overboard and swallowed up by a giant fish he was relieved and scared all at the same time.  The Lord “provided” the fish for Jonah.  See Jonah 1:17.  I would bet his repentance was in the first several seconds of being eaten alive.  I’m sure the circumstances of the next 3 days and nights dictated a different kind of prayer. 

Jonah 2:2 lets us in to see how Jonah prayed,

He said:
       “In my distress I called to the LORD,
       and he answered me.
       From the depths of the grave [a] I called for help,
       and you listened to my cry.

I’m learning I can run from God but I cannot out run Him.  In fact, I don’t even think God tries to chase any of us down.  I am beginning to think that our running from Him actually catches up with us on its own -through our circumstances.  I look at the various times I have run from God and I can see the destruction that has followed.  There have been many times when I decided to do plan B because somewhere down the road I thought plan B would help me accomplish plan A.  WRONG!

In fact, look at Jonah 2:2 one more time.  Jonah prayed, “In my distress…”  The distress he caused himself by not doing what God told him to do in plan A.

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 7).

I got up this morning and knew I had to get up and go cry out to Him.  I want answers, I want a word from Him, I want Him to speak to me, and I want Him to deliver me from the circumstances I find myself in today.  Today, I call out to Him out of my distress (the distress I brought on myself).  I remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I have an anticipation of the future – that’s a good thing.  I am calling out to God not so that I can obtain those things but rather so I can know Him.  I’m sure many of us feel the same way with a different set of circumstances.  It’s time to get on our knees and seek the Father.  For some, life has never been better.  For those of you who are experiencing that I ask you to get on your knees and intercede for the many who are in need of seeking God…  the many who are in need of a miracle from God.

I’m reminded of the intro to a song by Jerusalem on the live Album… “I am a warrior, you are a warrior, in the Army of God. Stand up, take your sword, take your shield, and start fighting – don’t sit down.” No matter where you find yourself today:  On dry land living life, in the belly of ship sound asleep (Jonah 1:5), or in the belly of a great fish… it’s time to take your sword, take your shield, and start fighting – PRAY!

Reaching out to someone I don’t know

Intercessory prayer is a wonderful way to serve others.  Have you ever spent time praying for another person without them knowing about it?  If you have then you know the joy that is associated with the time spent praying for them.  You know of the burden that is carried for someone else… the heavy heart.  You also know how much you begin to think about that person throughout the day.  The care and concern for the other person grows… and you wait on God to be who you believe Him to be in that persons life.

If you do not know what it is like to pray for someone else… commit to praying for someone else… there are circumstances that surface everyday that call us all to our knees – you can touch the world through prayer.

Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 7).

We are living in desperate times.  It seems like finances are a struggle for almost everyone I know.  While driving to work yesterday I saw a tow truck snatching a car from one of the schools I pass.  I know what the tow truck was doing… it was the probably the second re-po of the morning all before 7:40 in the morning. There was already another car up on the flat-bed.

I wonder how that teacher felt last night?  I don’t even know who the car belonged to but I hurt for them.  They are even on my mind this morning.  I pass by a business everyday also… that’s their business – repossessing cars, trucks, and right now there is even a boat in the yard.  The yard is full of vehicles! This is not a time to point a finger… to put people down for their mistakes… but rather a time for all of us to get things right.  I think we are all under a microscope of sorts right now – at least that’s how I feel.  And now is the time to repent of the sins and to walk the path God would have us to walk.

I pray for the person who owns that maroon car.  I pray God helps them in this situation.  I pray for grace and mercy for this person.  I ask God to give them a miracle.

Your intercessions can never be mine, and my intercessions can never be yours, “. . . but the Spirit Himself makes intercession” in each of our lives ( Romans 8:26 ). And without that intercession, the lives of others would be left in poverty and in ruin.  (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 7).

Blocking out the noise in silence…

Catalyst… I was there!

Catalyst… It’s still bugging me!

Catalyst…        

I can either run to the Truth and embrace it… or I can run from it.  From all indications there is no running from it.  Total surrender is the only acceptable response.  God is on every street corner.  He is in the midst of every conversation since those two powerful days.  God was there before I got there.  He was waiting.  God was in the invitation for me to go.  God is here with me today.  God is.

This is not about Catalyst.

I have read several blogs from some who have attended Catalyst.  I hear their response.  I hear how God has dealt with them. But I still struggle.  I still cry.  I still sit here looking through my notes.  What is it I can’t let go of?  Why is it God will not let go of me?  (Not that I want Him to).  But He is always there – He is always here.  No matter where I go in my thoughts he is there. 

He was there December 1983.  He changed my life set me a part for Himself.  To lift Him up!  To tell His gospel story.   

I have the house to myself this morning.  I have sat here in silence.  Just sitting.  I dare not go outside and do anything as I have had bronchitis for the past week.  So, I sit… just listening to the silence.  When was the last time you sat in total silence?  Literally the only thing I can hear is the refrigerator and THAT is about to drive me nuts!  God is here. 

This is not about me…

In the silence, I have prayed for friends.  Friends who are sick.  Friends who are serving the Lord at this very moment.  Friends who are surrounded by fear.  Friends who are full of hope and encouragement.  Friends who God is reaching through me.  God has been doing some things I didn’t even know about until day before yesterday…. WOW!  But today – I’ve just sat here.  And so has God.  It took me a bit to notice He was here.  Oh – I was listening for Him but I had some things to deal with in this silence.  In this moment He is here.  He is there with you too.  It could be today or It could be tomorrow but He is there.  Kind of freaky – I know.  But it’s His love.

Is it noisy where you sit? 

Although I have been sitting here in this silence my mind has been filled with the noise that distracts me so much.  Now that I am here… now that He is here… I just want to stay here in this silence.  I have found a bit of peace.  The noise is gone (even the motor of the refrigerator is silent).

It’s all about God… His Son – Jesus…

Have you told anyone lately?  Is the Holy Spirit working through you today?  Or is there too much noise?  You know He will work through you even through all of the noise… don’t let the noise trick you to think otherwise.  Your life is His… let Him use you today… there’s another life waiting for the Truth.  They are looking for it.  They are on the street corner.  They are in the grocery store checkout line.  They are at your work.  They may even be in your church.  They are where you are.  Be abandoned to Him.  Run… go and tell what He has done for you.  Don’t let the moment pass you by.  It’s not about Catalyst… it’s not about me… It’s all about Jesus.  It’s about setting the captive free. 

The world is looking for a revelation
We’re always under their investigation
They look at us to hear we got to say
They can’t see Jesus when we stand in the way
They don’t need no more elevated speeches
We’re keeping Jesus just beyond their reaches
Can’t see the forest for all of the trees
They won’t see Jesus till we fall on our knees

(From, “Lift Him Up”, Petra – Bob Hartman, 1983).

Silence Broken

Kara just broke the silence with a very strange txt message:  “John McCain is at the Cartersville Airport until 1PM” I had to turn on FOX News and break the silence to find out for sure.  It was a scheme of the devil… to get me out into the cool breezy weather.   John McCain is in Albuquerque today!!  Which is ironic  – as I would love to be living in Albuquerque once again!!  Thanks for the diversion Kara. 🙂

And love is not the easy thing…

… the only baggage that you can bring. It’s all you can’t leave behind. (U2, “Walk On” Bono).

I love the opening to the song “Walk On” by U2.  I was listening to it today while burning up some of that cheap fuel I bought last Saturday!!  The words just captivate my heart… it’s a captivity that leads to freedom. 

Think about it:  Love is not easy… yet Paul says it’s the greatest of all gifts. (1 Corinthians 13).  I guess in the context of this verse love is the ONLY baggage you can bring… when a believer in Christ dies the only baggage allowed is love.  Love is the only thing you can’t leave behind.

I realize this song is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.  She is a political prisoner in Myanmar.  As for her faith, she is a Buddhist.  She has been a political prisoner under house arrest because of her fight… dream… of democracy for her country. 

Because of this song I pray for her and people like her.  People who are held captive for what they believe.  It’s people like her who have a quality inside them that bars, prison, and persecution can’t hold. 

That quality is LOVE.  The truest form of this love is a gift given by Jehovah –  The Lord God Almighty.  This love was lived out and expressed in it’s deepest form in a man named Jesus Christ.  The man who came to bring freedom to all men and women who would believe in him.

For God so loved the world – how beautiful are those six words.  I sit here so late at night thinking almost imagining this love – in a way I’ve never known before.  This kind of love gives and gives and gives.  Seventy times seven this love gives… love is not the easy thing / the only baggage you can bring / It’s all you can’t leave behind.

You see – I have this thing.  If you keep up with things here at focus, you will know something of this thing.  I desire peace… not just some mamby pamby passive peace… I’m talking a strong victorious kind of peace.  Peace must be found.  I must not allow the love of God who fills me be tarnished by all of the opposing feelings, thoughts, and attitudes that try to win me over.  I know it’s not the easy thing.   And the fight must be waged on a spiritual level. 

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  Love is not the easy thing.

I know I have posted this song recently.  I hope you will take a moment if you haven’t already to think about the lyrics here.  They are posted below the video…. if you don’t want to watch the video and just listen and read them… think… pray… whatever God leads.  For me they are inspiring and I hope they are for you too.

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

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you’ve got they can’t deny it
Can’t sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the hurt is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress-up
All that you scheme…

Cast all my cares…

…upon You!

Ever tried to lay down a burden?  Have you ever tried to let something go that was totally tormenting your every thought? 

Monday night this week I went to bed relatively early (before Greta van Susteran was done talking about Tood Palin).  But I was up at 12:55 AM not to return to sleep until 4:30 AM.  During the time I was awake I was trying to pray through this thing… I was trying to lay down my burden.  I finally fell asleep still holding onto a burden I wanted to let go of.

So, what does one do? 

How do you let go of something that you really want to let go of?

I don’t have any answers here.

But an hour or so later I woke up again.  The following is what was running through my mind… through my heart… and has stayed present on my mind the past two days.  These are the words of Darrin McWatters from everybodyduck.  The song:  “Consuming Fear”.

 
I'm gonna trust in the Lord
I'm gonna trust in the Lord
I'll not be afraid I'll not be afraid I'll not be afraid anymore

I cast all my cares upon You
And anytime I don't know just what to do
I will cast all my cares upon You 

I cast all my cares upon You
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