Monday, April 26, 2010

Wisdom from a Farmer

Good Morning Everyone! Hope you all are enjoying the April Showers! This morning I had the joy of running in them until my clothing had taken on the additional burden of at least 5 pounds of water or at least it felt that way. When telling one of my coworkers (who just happens to be a third generation farmer) about the experience he gave me a pearl of wisdom that I wanted to share. He said "You know my Mom told me that God never gives us what we can't handle and I'm thinking, God sure does think alot of my capabilities based on all he lays at my feet."

I guess I never really thought about it that way... being flattered that God is giving you many different things to deal with and knowing that you will come through because of the strength of your character and resolve he has instilled in you. I, as many of those around me, are quick to jump to the conclusion that somehow we're being punished for something when life isn't going smoothly. I can't count the number of times I've said "God, what did I do to deserve this?" Using the farmer's wisdom above perhaps I should have said "Thank You for having this much confidence in me when I don't have it in myself to handle it all."

Doesn't this all come down to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? And, Isn't it awesome to watch God at work? Let Go and Let God is one of my favorite sayings. I'm so very stubborn that I try to do things on my own way to often and end up beating my head against the wall. Maybe that is why my perspective wasn't like the farmers. Maybe I need to be better at giving it over. We all know that alone, we are nothing, but with God we cannot be beaten. I'm hoping that we can keep the farmer's thoughts fresh in our minds as we start the final week of April and that we allow God to do his work in and through us. Finally a verse that's on my mind which relates:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And ...

Good Morning Everyone! God certainly is trying to push that sun through the clouds for us today. I'm guessing it will be shining brightly soon. Some people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them the sun is shining on rainy days so I guess I have a different perspective.

This morning I want to discuss something that was inspired somewhat by a part of a message that Dr. Call gave at Thoburn UMC this past weekend. Its always a blessing to listen to his sermons. God certainly has given him a gift and he is using it very well. His sermon this past Sunday was titled "Fishing With Jesus". So many good things came out of the message, but one that kind of stuck with me was his discussion on now that Easter was over what should the Disciples do? Dr. Call's message was strongly focused on the relationship that the Disciples had with Jesus and their need to follow him and feed his sheep. You can actually find it on the Thoburn UMC website and I think all of you would enjoy it. The part that really inspired me as I reflected on it was the "what now" part or the "And..." part. I'm going to share with you what rotated in my pea sized brain as I looked introspectively into the feelings of not knowing what to do next as I'm sure the Disciples probably did following Easter.

What do I mean by the "And..."? Well, have you ever had the rug pulled out from under you or have experienced something that has completely taken the wind from your body? I'm not only talking about news you receive (of course that could be it). I'm also talking about something you have done (or haven't) that you shouldn't (or should) have that results in pain for someone else. If you have the heart I have, I'm guessing that you had this feeling of being knocked to the floor when you saw the results... some call it conviction. With all of that being said lets now discuss the "And..." Well, as with everything else in our lives God gives us a choice. We are free to live our lives without the compulsion of always having to follow a certain line of thinking. God gives us the ability to make choices, even wrong ones and learn from them. So as for the "And..." Maybe you have ignored something or someone in your life and... it has resulted in pain. Maybe you have made a poor choice and... hurt those around you. Or, maybe upon opening Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, you realize you have broken every law that is contained therein, and... are not only suffering yourself, but have caused suffering because of your actions. I've seen and experienced so much of this pain Brothers and Sisters and wish we all (myself included) could somehow learn to be free of the burden we bring upon ourselves and those in our lives!

Now for the good news... in absence of perfection... there is a level we can attain to serve ourselves and others... that is the real "And..."

Next time you have the feeling of falling flat on your face as I've described above I would encourage you think about something that helps me through with my constant struggle with imperfection: On many occasions, I've had to say that I have failed to be the person I'm supposed to be in Christ and... I'm still a Child of God. He loves me for who and what I am. He loves me when I'm on the top of the highest mountains, is there with me when I fall, strengthens me when I'm weak, protects and loves those in my life when I don't have the capacity or am blinded by my selfishness, and will never let me out of his hands! My prayer is that we all never, ever forget that! There is nothing that is too big for God to handle and life is going to be filled with things that leave us asking. Just know that regardless of what we do, our Risen Savior has his hands on us and heals us. Praise be to God for it all. We will live and learn here on earth until we return to our Home. God is good... all the time! Time to head off and remember the good "and..."

Love in Christ,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Have You Ever Been Challenged?

Good Morning Everyone!

What a gorgeous morning God has blessed us with out there this morning. The weather was just cool enough to make the run perfect at 5 bells ;o) This morning I want to talk about something that has recently happened in my life and something I hope that all of you can relate to. I have recently found a very good friendship that I never would have thought had potential to be so. Let's just say that this friend was placed in my life for a reason and I'm very blessed by the opportunity to share my faith walk with them. Prior to the end of last year and the beginning of this year I knew this person, but only only on the surface. Recently, we have on many occasions talked about my faith walk and just how powerful the Grace of Jesus has been in my life. These discussions reached a very deep point last Friday when my friend asked me what I thought about the other religions and why was everything in the Bible the truth and not just a bunch of stories. Have you ever been challenged like this? Well, let's just say that I was fairly deficient in my toolbox, but struggled and muddled through the discussion.

I basically started out with a diatribe on Biblical history from the Old Testament to the New Testament and a large focus on Paul's letters. Actually I don't think we talked much about Revelation at all. Revelation would probably be way too involved at this point. Well, my efforts were not as effective as I'm sure others could have been, but at least I didn't completely turn my friend away. I guess this was a good lesson for me on humility, patience, and being a witness.

I thought I was prepared for such a discussion, but my friend challenged me in ways I certainly wasn't ready for. It was not until I had time to take a step back that I realized that sometimes being a witness is not about the challenge, its about the ability to listen to another person's heart and where Jesus is in their life. Its also about the recognition that we are never at the same point in our relationship with God as those in our lives and that is Okay! I would say that my friend most reminds me of the Prodigal Son. They are just away from home right now, but the Father has not let them go. Who knows maybe I'll be lucky enough to be the driver to take them home... How awesome would that be? I won't complain though... God has already given me an overwhelming gift by providing me the opportunity to share in his name. Remember words on a page are just that without a person to share them and give them meaning.

I leave you with this section of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This was the response from the Father to the Older Brother who was angry that they were celebrating his brother's return after being in Godless places "My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But, we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found." Luke 15:31-32.

Love in Christ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friends In Low Places

As with many messages I send out, this one was inspired by a discussion my prayer partner Scott and I had at breakfast yesterday. Thank God for renewal and placing this Brother into my life! As you see from the subject line I want to briefly touch on what is called having friends in low places.

As a Christian we have many opportunities. One that I cherish is to be able to witness. I absolutely love it when God places people into my life that are hungry for a good discussion on becoming more connected. My only challenge is to not tackle the person and go overboard ... Yes, hard to believe, but I get excited and can be a little bit of a Bull in a china shop ;o) That being said I also feel that inaction is also unacceptable. In my humble opinion part of being a witness is to not isolate or maybe a better term is insulate myself with a wall of fellow believers. I feel it is important to recognize when someone needs Christ in their life and go to them.

How many times have we missed chances because we avoid those that have problems, we consciously walk around those at rock bottom, and we return to our happy place rather than rolling up our sleeves and helping those in need? Just because a person makes bad choices doesn't mean they should be cast away. Who better to lead them than someone that knows Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus hung out with friends in low places. Did he like what they were doing? Absolutely not, as a matter of a fact I'm guessing he detested the sin and their sinful nature, but he showed absolute and unconditional love for them. He went to the lost so that they could be found.

Luke 5:31-32, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance."

Now I'm certainly not saying that you need to go looking for someone in the neighborhood bar, brothel, or unmentionable place. I'm guessing that you won't have to look far in your own life to discover those that need you and need Christ. Take time to pray for God to place someone on your heart that is in pain and needs to know him. Then allow yourself to be a vehicle of God's love. Find your "friends in low places" and witness to them. Maybe an indirect discussion about the transforming power of Jesus Christ will be all they need. Don't miss the chance to save a life. I'm glad someone was willing to do that for me and I'm glad I have the opportunity to pay it forward once again.

Love in Christ,