God’s call…

These words by Oswald Chambers always seem to stir my mind and my heart.  Everyone is not called to preach.  But we are all “called” to serve the Lord with the gifts that we have been given. 

Once someone begins to hear that call, a suffering worthy of the name of Christ is produced. Suddenly, every ambition, every desire of life, and every outlook is completely blotted out and extinguished. Only one thing remains— “. . . separated to the gospel. . . .” Woe be to the soul who tries to head in any other direction once that call has come to him…  Beware of competing calls once the call of God grips you.  (My Utmost for His Highest, February 2).

On the RBC Ministries website, there is a link to “Discover the Word Daily.”  There is further teaching available as a PodCast on the subject.  It’s called “Looking at Your Job from God’s Perspective“.  The teachings purpose is to help people understand God’s call (ministry or in the workforce).

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Bloom where you are planted…

…but don’t be surprised if where you are planted is in a nursery.

I used to lead a landscaping company when I lived in Albuquerque.  It was a great experience and it was an awesome opportunity to work for my friend there.  I learned a lot during that time of my life.  While working there I would take clients to a local nursery to get a better idea of the plantings I was suggesting for their landscape.  Once the selections were made I would place the order.

Those plants I am sure were very content staying right there in the nursery.  They had plenty of water and the appropriate lighting necessary for their growth.  But there would come a day for those plants to be relocated to another location… possibly their permanent home. 

Israel was taken care of by God while wandering in the wilderness.  God lead them with a cloud by day and fire by night.  They went were he lead.  They grumbled and complained a lot.  Yet the entire time Joshua was being raised up to lead them on into the Promised Land and out of the wilderness.

God has used wilderness experiences in my life to get my attention that it was time to go somewhere else.  Now – I’m not saying that He leads everyone that way… that’s just how He has gotten me to make a move in one direction or the other.   

No matter where you may be today in your walk with Christ – you will always be walking toward greater maturity.  In order to do so that may mean you will have to step out of the nursery and into the wilderness for a bit.  But take heart God will be there in the fog and will lead with fire.  Bloom wherever God plants.

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.

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?

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).

Change and the Crossroad

In the words of David, “…Keep your mouth shut and let your heart do the talking…” (Psalm 4:4).

While proclaiming the Kingdom of God John the Baptist stated, “Change your life God’s kingdom is here.” (Matthew 3:2).  John went on to say, “It’s your life that must change not your skin.” (Matthew 3:8).

At the center is the heart.  It’s easy to talk about what I believe – it’s another thing to live it.  A new heart will produce a life of change.  That change will always start internally before it spreads to others. 

Sometimes that’s hard for me to do.  Especially these past few weeks.  I have so much inside me that wants and desires to live for God – I wish I had the words to convey the desires of my heart.  Yet the conflict I have been experiencing has been strong.  For me the conflict I have been experiencing has been at a “crisis level” which has produced much frustration. 

He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.  (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 1).

What would life be like if…

Have you ever wondered what life be like without Jesus?  Think about it for a moment… What would life be like if the birth of Jesus had not taken place 2000 years ago?

The world would be an unbelievably different place today had the birth of Jesus not taken place.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without hope.  When Jesus came to this earth he brought hope… filled our hearts and lives with joy that can only come from Him.  This is a kind of hope and joy that nothing in this life can offer.

The words of Jesus in John 15:5, “without me you can do nothing.”  I think about this verse in relation to what it would be like if God had not come to earth in flesh.  Oswald Chambers states, “That is why the underlying foundation of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.” (My Utmost for His Highest, December 23).

The amazing thing about His birth is that there is no other way we can experience a relationship with God that is real and personal.  It was by God becoming personal with us (in flesh) that we are able to be personal with Him. 

To find examples of how it would be to live life without Jesus – we don’t have to look to far… we don’t have to use our imaginations.  All we have to do is to look back into our own past for starters.  We can see our neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends who still live without the real hope and real joy that has come to this world through the birth of Jesus Christ.

As you celebrate, remember He has come to be with us.  His coming is real and personal.  He knows our names… He knows how many hairs are own our heads.  He intimately cares for all of us!

If you believe in Jesus, recall the joy experienced in coming to Him.  There’s a purpose in getting to know that joy.  That joy is to lead us to a personal relationship with God. 

Oswald Chambers goes on to say,

We mistake the joy of our first introduction into God’s kingdom as His purpose for getting us there. Yet God’s purpose in getting us into His kingdom is that we may realize all that identification with Jesus Christ means. (My Utmost for His Highest, December 23).

His birth, hope, and joy is to lead us to a place of total identification with the Savior.  Total identification is the giving of our entire lives for His purpose… to carry the marks and to be identified with Him no matter the cost. 

This is where I am today… how serious am I at being identified with Christ?  Is it just something to be written about in a blog or is it to be lived in compassion and humility serving others.  If you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.  See Matthew 25:35-40.