Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trophy or Testimony?

We can turn the results of our obedience or the success of our ministry into either a trophy or a testimony. What determines the final definition is formed by what we have allowed into our hearts to fuel our motives and empower our actions.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139: 23-24).

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pressing On

Last night, Jan and I watched the new version of the classic movie, Ben-Hur. One scene touched me more than the others. It was when Jesus was carrying His cross while wearing a crown of thorns stumbling through the streets of Jerusalem toward His crucifixion. 

As I viewed that painful scene I thought, “What do I have to offer this God in the flesh if He were to walk by me like He did when He passed Ben-Hur?” Would I offer Him my books, my website, my blog? Would I offer Him how many times in the coming months I am speaking somewhere? Ben-Hur offered Jesus a cup of cold water to ease His suffering. I thought, “Where is my cup of cold water?

When Paul wrote to the Philippians about what truly matters in life he said, “ I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.  Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him” (Philippians 3:7-9). The things we do for and in the name of God are not worthless, they are simply worth less than we realize compared to knowing Jesus.

Jan and I are in the process of downsizing. I am not talking about our house. It is 1047 square feet. I am not talking about our lifestyle. It is already simple. What I am talking about are those things we are doing in the name of God. We are reeling some of them back in to take a second look. We want to make sure they are not things that get in the way of a simpler expression of our faith and our calling. We are “pressing on” as Paul said to something more that is really something less – something simple yet as profound as offering a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. It is not easy to press on when so many things compete for our time and our energy at the expense of offering a cup of cold water.

“If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded” (Matthew 10:42).

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Moving In Supernatural Timing

I saw a person moving in slow motion through a scene of their life that was running at full speed. People, cars, and buildings sped past the person like a blurred special effect created by a photographer. Something supernatural was taking place. An interruption of natural time was happening.
As the person moved through what seemed like spiritual molasses, revelation began to come that was previously hidden in a hectic pace of their life. Sounds began to emerge from the deafening noise of everyday life. These were sounds were heard for the first time in understandable tones giving the person the time and ability required to discern the message they contained. 

Once the person received the fresh revelation and heard the new sound, God returned them to real-time. As soon as the person reentered the normal pace of their life, a decision stood awaiting their return. What was gained in the slow-motion moment of the Spirit contained the answer that had eluded them in real-time.

A Fresh Wind of God's Spirit

You will make it through this challenging season of life. A fresh wind of God's Spirit is beginning to blow and the effect of that wind will change everything.

When I was a teenager living near Santa Cruz, California, I spend a lot of my time surfing up and down the central California coast. One of my favorite days was to surf when a strong offshore wind was blowing. These winds would flow from land out to sea. When the offshore wind hit an incoming wave it would hold up the face of the wave longer than normal allowing us to shoot through sections of the wave that under normal conditions would close out ending our ride. The wind allowed us to ride through sections of a wave not available on a windless day.

Yesterday, I saw a photo of a surfer riding a wave. A strong offshore wind was blowing. The photo captured a wind blowing so strong it was blowing off the top of the waves.  Under the influence of the wind, the rider was able to ride across the suspended face of the wave just before the wave collapsed behind him.

As I viewed the image, I felt it was a visual metaphor for some of you who have entered a season where some sections of your life feel like they are in danger of immediate collapse. Just like a surfer longs for an offshore wind to hold up the face of a wave, you are about to receive a fresh wind of God’s Spirit. This wind will prevent a premature collapse of what lies before you in this particular section of your life-journey. What looks like a predictably short-lived ride will be transformed into an extended ride by the wind of the Spirit. God will hold up your wave long enough for you to transit its challenges. 

Stay on your board and press through this section of the wave. Don't pull out of the ride prematurely.  When you complete this ride you will flash the same kind of smile that appeared on my young face each time an offshore wind helped me make it through a challenging section of a fast-moving wave. The wind of God's Spirit is beginning to blow. Move forward with that expectation!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Two Sides of the Coin of Faith

There are times when our opinion on a matter of faith is found on the opposite side of the coin from the opinions held by fellow believers. Depending on the season in which we find ourselves, the coin of faith can land on either the head or the tail of an opinion. In these moments when it appears to us everything is so black and white, we can assume what we see from our limited point of view is the whole truth of the subject. How the coin lands can be determined by the dominant voices being heard at the moment or by a particular cultural environment in which the conversation is taking place. 

An opposing opinion about an essential matter of faith needs to be investigated in love. Even then, we need to remember the opposing opinions are held by people whom God loves. Our conversation and interaction with each other should be empowered by the love of God, not our need to correct before we listen. These challenging moments require maturity and discernment. None of us sees all of the truth all of the time. In a civil and healthy conversation, truth can prevail if we give it a chance.

The Word and the Spirit work together to provide us with an understanding larger than our own. These two are always in harmony and agreement while our opinions may not share that same sense of unity. Harmony is the place where God invites His Church to come and stand together when disagreements arise and when one side of the coin is promoted over the other. This is where our conversation can begin to gain its greatest traction - a traction empowered by love. Those who stand at the intersection of Word and Spirit get there by walking forward in humility and honor valuing the opinion of others and giving them a place at the table instead of prematurely discarding the person and the opinion they hold. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Living in the Eye of the Storm

You are about to make a life-altering decision. Be careful. Surrounding you is a hurricane of emotion spinning at a dizzying speed. The presence of this storm can affect the wisdom of your decision-making. God has put you in the eye of the storm for your safety. He is asking you to slow down and move only when He moves. If you rush ahead you will press through the eye wall of this protected place and enter the violence and destruction of the storm. Slow down and reset the pace of your life and your emotions to align with the direction of God's Spirit.  
This storm is about to hit spiritual landfall where it will begin to dissipate. When this happens the storm will dissolve around you. When the dust and debris finally settles, you will find yourself at a new destination - a place that was impossible to find on your own.  
This is a time for you to move forward in a patient faith - a faith that will keep you from making a hasty and unwise decision.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Your Emotional Zoo

Some of you feel like an animal that has been captured and trapped in a zoo. You have been taken against your will from a place where you were surrounded by loving relationships. You now live surrounded by restraining bars and fake scenery. People are peering in at your life. You are more isolated here than you ever were roaming in the most remote expanse of your original home. This zoo is not the life God intends for you to have. You long for the open space where you could run in freedom with family and friends. You have tried to adapt to this captured life. Don’t! This is not your real home. God has heard the cry of your heart – a cry you have stopped making because you assumed there is no way out. Get ready. The Lord is coming to open the gate and walk you out of this emotional zoo and bring you back home to set you free once again.