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.  If you had been him, how would you have chosen where to go?    IMG_2822

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 a crossroad 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 would respond to the situation it is still a decision that must be faced and made.  No decision is still a decision.  How do you make the decision?  What steps do you take?  Do you get the Road Map out?  In my life, the Road 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, fulfillment, and contentment were not in the directions I have tried thus far.  I am still hungry to know God more so I keep going back to the Cross and asking for direction.  I am asking for wisdom… wisdom to be used for His glory, for the leadership of my family, and the community in which I live (wherever that would take me).

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).

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, wisdom, and grace.

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Stop Signs

stop-sign

Some may look at this sign and do exactly what it says every-time.  Some may see this sign and think it really doesn’t mean stop at this intersection.  Then there are those who may think that this only means STOP if there are other cars coming or if the Police are watching.

So, what do you do?  Do you stop, slow down, or ignore this sign.

This morning I’m reading Exodus 28.  As I read, I am recognizing how detail-oriented God is.  Now, when He says to use “purple thread” on the Ephod does that mean purple or a violet… it could mean some other shade of blue.  I guess you may use whatever color you deem appropriate if you are one that doesn’t stop at the stop sign.

God is a God of details.  He cares about the details of our lives.  He desires the best for each of us… no matter where we may find ourselves within our circumstances… He cares. 

The next time you are out driving and you see a sign that tells you what to do at the intersection, how fast you are to drive, or see on the pavement when and where you can change lanes – remember God cares about the details of your life.  Probably a whole lot more than the DOT who is responsible for putting up those signs and markings on the road.

Thanks to Darrell for the insight here…  Thanks for helping us make a memory too.  What do you think – does he stop, coast, or speed up?

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.

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.

Wide open spaces of God’s grace…

At times I’m finding it difficult to “just read” through the Bible. (Don’t be dismayed I’m ahead of schedule none-the-less with my reading plan). On Friday, I read 4 verses in Chapter 5 of Romans and BAM… I just have to stop and reflect on what is being said.

God has such a wonderful way of loving us. He created us with love in mind. That was His plan during the days of creation. He had you and me on his mind. I can’t comprehend that… but it’s the truth.

God has put on display Himself and His love toward us through creation as seen in the sun shining upon the water. He shows us His majesty as we gaze upon the Great Rocky Mountains. The expanse of His grace is revealed in the great open plains. Stop whatever you are doing and take in all His grace has to offer. Praise Him at the top of your lungs… go out somewhere this weekend all alone and proclaim OUT LOUD to God your love for him.

“By 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. There’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.” (Romans 5:1-4, The Message).

Why all the fear?

I recall sitting in my bedroom on Walnut Dr.  It was summer.  I think I was 19 years old.

I knew what God was wanting to do with me at the time.  I knew what He was calling me to do.  I knew what He was preparing.  But I had this fear of stepping out and doing what He wanted me to do. 

Fear.  It’s an ugly four letter word.  One that I don’t like to face. 

So what happened on that day in my bedroom?  I had been praying about this thing on my mind.  I knew what God was telling me.  Yet I wanted him to write it out on the wall for me… send me a letter in the mail… speak to me audibly.  I just wanted authoritative proof that what was on my mind was really Him and not something I was making up in my mind. 

So what happened while in my bedroom?  Well, after I prayed I recall having this thought come to my mind. “Read Psalm 32:8-11.”  OK – cool – I will read it.  I did.  Before I read it I had no idea what it was going to say.  I wasn’t even sure if there were 11 verses in this Psalm.  I grabbed my NIV and started reading:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
       I will counsel you and watch over you.

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
       which have no understanding
       but must be controlled by bit and bridle
       or they will not come to you.

 Many are the woes of the wicked,
       but the LORD’s unfailing love
       surrounds the man who trusts in him.

 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
       sing, all you who are upright in heart.

Well, He didn’t have to head me over the head!  But I’m glad He did! After-all I asked for it!

Tonight I am reading in Psalm 32.  While reading this passage I am reminded of that particular evening.  Now I’m 43.  Guess what!  I still struggle with that fear. 

My friend James told me yesterday, “Don’t be afraid”  – among other things.  Sometimes I think if God would put that bit in my mouth and lead me on I will not need to fear… yet he says, “Don’t be like the horse of the mule…”  I guess I’m a jack ass 🙂 !  Just kidding… I’m a child of God that wants to be safe.  I need to live with “Reckless Abandon”.

Why all of the fear?

“Unforced rhythms of grace.”

I’m following YouVersion.com reading plan as I read through the Bible.  I’m loving it.  I am on track to read the Bible through two times this year.  If you haven’t noticed I like to use The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Today I was reading in Matthew 11.  Checkout the words of Jesus here in Matthew 11:28-30. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (The Message).

I love how Eugene Peterson has translated these verses!  “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  This reminds me of the “Dance with me” posts I wrote in March 2008.  There are several posts there with this thought.

Jesus invites us to walk with him.  Our lives are to walk with the Lord as the Holy Spirit freely moves in our lives.  As I sit here, I get the vision of a wheat field moving with the wind out on the open plains.  The wheat moves without effort as the wind moves across the plain.  Jesus wants us to watch how he lives and to learn to move as he moves. 

I encourage you to read Matthew 5.  Think about walking with the Lord and putting to work the words of Jesus.  If you are burned out on religion, church, or “Christians” who say one thing and live something different… Seek Jesus… walk with him… “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  You will find a new world – a new life awaits you!