His blessings are beautiful…

Last Sunday I sat on the deck early for prayer and coffee.  I began to read over one of the passages I was going to use in the message I was speaking at church.  As I read, Matthew 6:25-34, I could hear all of the birds in the trees throughout my backyard.  The incredible sound began to overtake my attention.  For a few moments all I could think about were all of those birds.  Jesus said,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

God takes care of the needs of those birds I could hear singing.  He cares for our needs as well.  I say “His blessings are beautiful…” because God deeply cares for all of our needs.  Lent this year was such a powerful time.  One of the great blessings that came my way when I wasn’t looking was my pastor and Expedition Church.  This all came about shortly after the beginning of Lent.  We ran into each other at a restaurant on a Friday night.  I visited on Sunday…  3 months later, give or take a few days, I am speaking on a Sunday morning.  I know more opportunities will arise and God will continue to pour into me so I can in turn give to others.  That’s what is so beautiful about serving God.  He gives to His people – His people have a choice to do with what He has given.  To hold on to it or to share it.  It’s when we share what God has given us with others that our lives really are fulfilled.

Do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?  I encourage you to seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness.  Trust Him.  As you trust Him, be obedient to the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew,

  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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Walking in God’s deep wisdom

As children, we all live with the thought of, “When I grow up I’m going to…..”

As a child, I dreamed of being an architect.  I had notebooks full of designs.  I charted my course in that direction and attended Middle Georgia College.  I made several discoveries that year.  One big discover was this choice was going to be really hard considering how challenged I was with Pre-Algebra.  I guess the greatest discovery I made was not in the classroom.  It was the world I found inside the pages of the Bible. I recall not being able to read enough and I looked for opportunities to share with others what I was discovering.

It was through the reading of God’s Word that I made decisions on how I was going to live and the path in life I was going to follow.  Reading Psalm 119:1-5 today reminded me of those days at Middle Georgia College.

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. (The Message).

Are you in love with God’s Word today?  Do you read His Word in hopes of getting closer to Him?  Are you freely giving yourself, your will, your dreams, and aspirations to him?  Stay the course whether or not you are living out those hopes and dreams.  In relentless pursuit, seek the wisdom of God.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Proverbs 3:5-7, The Message).

One way God reveals himself to us is through the Bible.  If the Bible is not a part of your daily life I encourage you to make it.  I bet that when you do He will help you stay the course.  Honestly, it’s not always easy.  Often times the road can seem unmarked.  Keep your eyes open for him.  Trust him today.  Take a moment or two and read Psalm 119.

I am confident He will help you finish the statement, “When I grow up I’m going to….” No matter what age you are today.

The Challenge

In the late 80’s I decided to start cycling as a sport.  I really didn’t know much about it.  I purchased a Road Bike from a friend who had just begun competing in triathlon’s.  (The frame was too big for him) My first time out on my bicycle some idiot guys came by and opened their car door on me.  They missed and I ran off the road.  I turned around, went home, and put the bike away until the mid 90’s.  Even then I only rode around the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when I had a moment or two to spare.

I was preparing to move to New Mexico when I began to get excited about Mountain Biking.  I began to ride more then.  But I never really got to a place where I felt like I was committed to the sport.  I was more committed to getting out and seeing the scenery from my bike more so than I was about the sport itself.  After a move to Kansas road biking became a focus once again.  Yet, it lacked the sustained commitment I needed.  I basically rode then in order to deal with the stress of working in a church.  I found cycling to be a great stress reliever! 

A couple of moves later and now I am back in Georgia.  After being here for several years I have been back on my bike now for over a year.  I’ve logged over 1,500 miles in the past year.  View from the SaddleI would like to say I am committed to cycling now… Finally at age 46.  Last year, I was challenged to enter into the  Bike MS150 Cox-Atlanta Ride 2011.  Training to ride in this event gave me the focus I needed to ride.  I kept at it through several set-backs from Shingles at the beginning of my training in February 2011 to numerous problems with my Centurion Accordors (the one I bought in the 80’s – and the one I still ride today).  I met my goal for that ride in September 2011… I finished.  Other benefits along the way were for my health.  My doctor took me off of my blood pressure medicine, I lost a little bit of weight, and I just felt better.

While on a recent ride, I kept hearing my “coach” (my step father) in my head telling me to focus on various things.  He wasn’t with me but several things he has spoken to me on some training rides kept coming back to mind as I peddled.  Then I began to think about the Holy Spirit and how He constantly brings the teachings of Jesus back to my mind.  I have also been thinking about the years I have been following Jesus and about my own commitment to following him.  I may not still be in “ministry” vocationally but my goal still is to please him and to follow him.  I want my relationship with him to be more than my desire to be vocationally serving him or a local church.  I want my commitment to him to be more than the scenery along the way.

As I have begun to be more serious about cycling, I have also begun to get more serious about my over-all health and the food I eat. (I do treat myself from time to time with a nice chili burger from Ross’ Diner… yum!).  I also read more about the sport and fitness trying to put those things into practice.  My good friend recently told me his plan is to just “ride”.  Taking his advice and applying it to life would be to just “live”. 

Maybe there is some truth in that.  It’s on that thought I will continue to be challenged… not only in cycling but also in following Jesus.  For me, the challenge each day is to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and his teachings. (Hebrews 12:2-3)  Too often I get my eyes focused on the “scenery” or the benefits of following Christ more so than on Jesus himself and his teachings.  I am reading in the Book of John in the New Testament now.  This is a quote from the Message found in John 6:45-46,

This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.

Today’s challenge is to walk faithfully with Jesus.  Inviting the Holy Spirit to teach and work through me.  To be committed to the life of a faithful servant.  To be like Peter when he told Jesus in John 6:68-69,

“Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”  (The Message).

Who are you facing?

Day 19 of the devotional, “Living a Divinely Inspired Life,” found on YouVersion.com, asks a very thought-provoking question.

If someone walked in your shoes for 24 hours, what would they learn about Christ?

What do you think they would learn? I believe as Christians we have a responsibility to live our lives in a manner that draws the people around us to Jesus. I don’t believe that one needs to be a pastor or minister in order to teach others about Christ. No matter where you find yourself you can make a difference in the life of someone else. I encourage you to look around to see who God has placed around you in order to lead them into a closer relationship with God in Jesus.

“As you enlist helpers for your vision, remember that you are also a helper in someone else’s journey.” (YouVersion.com, Living a Divinely Inspired Life, Day 18)

16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle[a] to stand there with you. 17 I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone. (Numbers 11:16-17, NLT)

You can only reflect what or who you are facing. I’m convinced more today than ever of the importance to worship and praise Jesus… to look in his direction and face him. When our worship of Jesus becomes our daily focus there will not be time for anything else that would distract us from the purpose for which God has created us.

When we live with mission, focus, and purpose we will take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul, “And you should imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1,NLT).

The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 10).

Who are you facing?

“Edit Walker”

Several weeks ago I was checking my son in at church.  I was in the process of making the correct selections for the class he was going to be in when he noticed a button on the screen that read, “Edit Walker.”  With his 9-year-old wheels turning he asked, “What does that mean?”  I replied, “Computers have a button that allows us to go in and edit our lives.”  He didn’t buy it. 

We went on to talk about this a little while later.  We talked about why we go to church, read God’s Word, and why we pray.  I explained to him I do these things in order to give God the opportunity to teach me so I can get to know God better and so I can make the necessary changes in my life in order to become the person He created me to be. 

Too me it seems like I put God in a box and look for Him to speak to me in certain ways.  I look to those moments from the past and think I should learn certain things to help me adjust my life today… at least so I won’t repeat the same mistakes twice.  I know God chose this simple moment at the check in station to speak to me through my son’s question.  While reading Oswald Chambers this week I read,

Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. (My Utmost for His Highest, January 25).

There is no set formula on how to hear God.  I find that at different seasons of life He speaks in different ways to me.  My main job is to look for Him – in all circumstances.  I’ve got a lot of growing left to do.  Each day I know that a part of that growing comes from those moments where the Holy Spirit needs to do a bit of editing of my life. 

I’m ready!  I’m ready for God to break into my life.  I’m ready for the renewing and editing that I know needs to take place.  I know that I have a story to tell… I know you do to.  Be ready.  Be on the look out for Him to show up in your life.  There is not an easy edit button on your life.  Submit your ways to Him… and may they become His ways.  Just when you least expect to see Him begin to look… seek Him and you will find Him.