Bright Lights

My son is learning to drive with his learners permit in his pocket.  A piece of plastic that gives him the right to drive on the road with an adult in the car with him.  I have always believed that permit was to learn to drive.  Now I’m seeing that it is there for his protection by forcing an adult to be in the car with him to teach him how to deal with impatient adults on the road.  (He is now the 4th child I’ve ridden with.  I don’t recall seeing so many impatient adults with the previous 3 children).

What have we become as a society?  It’s hurry here and there.  It’s hurry, hurry, hurry!  But, you know, mistakes occur when we hurry.  When you think of a hurried time in your life what comes to mind?

  • A scheduled appointment you are late for?
  • Impatient about finding a job?
  • Someone breathing down your neck to get something done… a deadline?
  • Finding that perfect relationship you will spend the rest of your life with?

We get in a hurry over a lot of things.  These four points are just from observations in life. (I could have written more…. but I’m in a hurry. Ha!… Sorry!) At some time in life we have all been in a hurry for one of those reasons or something else.  I can just about bet you that when life-decisions get hurried mistakes are made and accidents happen.

While riding down the road with my son, there was this car with bright lights on his tail.  He was going just over the speed limit.  He kept referring to the lights in his mirror and getting frustrated.  I encouraged him to focus on the road ahead and let the person deal with whatever they have going on by themselves.  We can’t control what they have going on. We can only focus on what we can see ahead of us.

Sometimes when others are in a hurry it can affect our own performance.

This conversation lead to more talk about the past.  We can’t do anything about the past in our lives.  Just like those bright lights, if we focus on the bright lights of the past we will be blinded and lose sight of what is up ahead.  Sometimes you have to reposition yourself, while in the driver seat, so that those things behind you don’t interfere with your future.

Who is sitting in your drivers seat?  Are you letting the guy behind you push you into a hurried state?  Are you getting your eyes off of the road in front of you all because you are focused on what’s behind you?

In Hebrews 12 we read,

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed- that exhilarating finish in and with God- he could put up with anything along the way:  Cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (The Message).

If you are wanting to look back, then look back to the life of Jesus.  See how he dealt with life.  The encouragement for the day is to look to Jesus… keep your eyes on him.  As we approach the final days leading up the celebration of his birth, look back over his story.  See how his story from the past can lead you on into a great future.

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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.

Get to know God

I came across this passage this last year.  Lori  saw that I underlined it in my Bible while she was reading tonight and brought it back to my attention.

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
      “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
   I’ll give you the best of care
      if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
   Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
      I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
   I’ll give you a long life,
      give you a long drink of salvation!”  (Psalm 91:14-16, The Message).

I know several people who are really hurting right now for various reasons.  My prayer tonight for each is that they will hold onto God for dear life – get to know Him and trust Him.  We each have a God shaped void in our lives that can only be filled by God.  We have to call upon Him and quit trying to fill it with other things.

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).

Life: There’s a lot of fear out here…

Yep, everywhere I turn out here in this land called life I run into this thing called fear.  Fear seems to be gripping this nation, this state, the town, and me these days. 

When I think of fear one of the first things I recall is the show, “The Little Rascals”.  I can recall so many times them somewhere in the dark and something happens that frightens them. 

What happens when one gets fearful?  FREEZE!  I think that’s the reaction for me. 

I stop and ask God to help me deal with the fear… give it to Him.  I stop and look around and listen closely for Him.  Unfortunately, there are times the fear is so strong when I stop to look and listen all I can hear is my own racing heart.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).

I have kept this verse on my blog for a couple of months now.  I keep it there as a reminder to look to God in all of my circumstances.  To remind myself not to cave in to this spirit of fear that is getting a grip on this nation.  It’s a reminder that my strength comes from God and He will uphold me when times are tough. 

It’s a reminder to me that there are many people out here living in fear.  It’s partly my job and partly yours to lead people to hope and trust in the One who gives strength to all  who ask.

Photo found Life at the Quinn Home.  Great worship music here too.

Who sits on the throne of your heart?

Does Jesus rule your thoughts, actions, and attitudes? Or does something or someone else take control?

I have been writing in my journal about purpose and God’s plan. How God chooses people to serve Him… and the purposes of that service.

So often I will get into this place where the voice I hear is saying, “You are disqualified.” Then I try to fight off the voice be telling myself to remember King David… nothing he did disqualified him from being God’s man.

I get so strongly frustrated with life way too much. I find it hard not to allow this frustration to rule everything around me and in me.

You have had the vision, but you are not yet to the reality of it by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the bumps and bruises that must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people. (My Utmost for His Highest, October 4).

So as an individual I have a choice to make. Will I give Jesus the throne of my heart? Or will I give my frustrated thoughts of disqualification the throne? Do I continue to give the grumblings of my heart the throne? It’s all just jealousy and anger… I don’t see this person or that person go through what I go through… I ask God, “Why am I singled out to walk this path?” “Do I have the power to make things different?” “Did I miss something along the way only to end up in this place?” “Is that why this brother or that one hasn’t walked my road?” (I pray they never do!) “Have I missed something along the way?” “Have I lacked wisdom?” “Do I control my own destiny or has God led me down this path?”

Oswald Chambers goes on to say, “There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends on us not on God.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 4).

I am weaving my thoughts out here and turn the electronic pages over to Brad’s blog, “Do I offend you?” The loneliest place of all would be John the Baptist sitting in a prison cell asking my questions. Now I hear Jesus ask me, “Do I offend you?”

Mountain Biking to the Mountain Top

One of the greatest experiences in my life was also one of my scariest.

It was 1997 and I was in LaPlata Canyon, Colorado.  LaPlata Canyon is just west of Durango.  I had just begun mountain biking a year before.  This was my first trek up a real mountain.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June.  We started off at about 8,100 ft in elevation and worked our way up above the tree line at around 10,000 ft. or so.  I will never forget that moment when we were finally riding on what seemed to be solid rock above the tree line.  I could finally see the point I was headed for… then it happened.

What happened scared me pretty good.  Over one side of the mountain came a great storm that brought  sleet or hail… wind, lightning, and very cold temperatures.  I was not prepared for the drastic change in weather.  We jumped into an entrance to an old mine for cover.

As quickly as the storm came we saw blue sky once again.  There we were having worked so hard and to get so close to the goal.  As we debated what we should do – the next set of clouds, wind, icy substance falling from the sky, and much colder temperatures began to surround us…

We decided to head back down the mountain – as fast as possible!  I have never had so much fun… and to be as scared as I was at the same time.  The ground was now looking wintry and we could smell the lightning.  The sound of the thunder was so loud.  I’m not sure which was worse the sound or how the rumble felt as we darted down the mountain.

I never tried to go back up to the top again.  But I didn’t quit riding.  In fact, it made me want to ride all the more.  Unfortunately, once I moved back to Georgia I quit riding.  I really want to start back.  I think about it every day.  As for now, my Cannondale mountain bike is sitting in the house. 

This memory I have is one of my favorite memories to talk about.  It’s strange that I love to talk about it yet it is something that I didn’t get to complete.  It’s like a mirror image of my life to a large extent.  It’s another chapter started – yet not completed.

I’m ready to begin a chapter that is actually written with an ending.  It’s like my life is this book with all of these chapters that have been written – the problem is that there are not any endings to any of the chapters.  So the reader starts the next chapter and has to wonder what in the world happened in between chapters 3 and 4.  “How did he get here?” the reader would ask.

Why is life so hard?  Why is life so stinking challenging?  For me, it’s like I never get a break.  There’s no time to take it easy.  My life seems like it is made up of storms that I am constantly trying to run from.  And as soon as I think I’m seeing blue sky’s another storm sets in.  I know there is a reason behind it all – there really is a purpose behind it.  I’m not beaten up and torn down over it.  In fact, right now I am very hopeful with what the future holds. 

As I look back on that couple of years of living there – I really think I was living on the mountain top – yet there is some unfinished business from those days.  I was reading Oswald Chambers today and the following quote from My Utmost for His Highest got me thinking about this story… it got me thinking a bit deeper about my life.

We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

Photo from summitpost.org.