Thursday, April 11, 2019

Are you busy? Why? Sometimes my busyness is the result of multiple opportunities to make an impact. When I am busy in a healthy way, I sense a peaceful fulfillment from using God’s gifts in me to make a difference. I sense His presence and pleasure. And at the end of those days, I rest well. That’s a healthy busy.

But busyness can be unhealthy and detrimental, too. Remember the story of the storm?

A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He (Jesus) was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die? ”

He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still! ” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? ” Mark 4:37-40

Sometimes my busyness helps me hide. Busyness keeps me from facing my fears, leaning into my deep desires and living faithfully in Christ. At times, busyness is a tool employed to avoid contemplating the state of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Jesus knew how to rest and be busy. He practiced the art of trusting in the Father— whether feeding thousands after a full day teaching or resting amidst a storm. His heart and mind were convinced of the Father’s purpose and care for Him.

The disciples in this story are busy bailing, fearfully and frantically avoiding death — so they think. Without a minute’s hesitation for contemplation, they fitfully wake Jesus from his sleep and accuse him of a lack of care. Busy bodies blaming Jesus.

On one level it seems prudent, logical and necessary to wake up Jesus – help us bail dude! But Jesus doesn’t commend their sense of urgency and busyness; He says their fearful actions indicate a lack of faith. Had they taken even a moment to consider who was in the boat? Had they taken so much as a minute to look at their fear and ask ‘what’s really going on within me right now?’ No. And Jesus said that is faithless.

Busyness (that they clearly justified), and their reactionary response to their circumstances, had blocked them from contemplating the deeper matters before them. Who is in my boat? What is it I fear? Why? What is the deep and holy longing I truly desire?

These are hard questions, and busyness offers a dodge. But they are essential questions we must ask ourselves. In answering them, we are hopefully led to more self-awareness, growth in faith, and most importantly knowing the Man in our boat — Jesus.

Patience with Brokenness

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Do you struggle to be patient with people that are different than you? The driver who cuts you off? The clerk who doesn’t get your order right? The loved one who doesn’t give the answer you want or doesn’t answer at all? The broken soul whose hurt comes out on you in hurtful ways? Patience in the face of brokenness is difficult to grasp.

 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”                                   1 Peter 2:23-24

That is patience. Even more so, Jesus patiently endured 30 years of life on this broken earth before he even began His life changing three year ministry. Patiently growing in grace, wisdom and stature before he began the journey to teach, suffer and die. That is patience.

I thank God for that patience. A patience that did not turn on me in anger. A patience that did not call fire down from heaven to destroy me and every other rebellious soul. His patience was born of a heart of love for those he came to save. He knew better than to react to the immediate circumstance. He had a long view to love, a patient understanding to the plan of redemption. His loving patience kept him from a vitriolic, reactionary smack-down and led Jesus to say:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.                                                                        Luke 23:24

Maybe in the middle of your week you feel impatient and tested. Maybe a co-worker, your boss or a friend just doesn’t get it and you feel like you are at your wits end. Or worse, maybe they’ve hurled hurtful words and actions at you. Before you react, before the pain you feel turns to painful retaliation, breathe. Breathe in the patient suffering and loving kindness of Jesus Christ for you. Breathe deep. Breathe again of the gentle hand of reconciliation He extended to you.

Father, today may I be a person of loving patience. Fill me with the love of Christ for myself and the other hurting people I encounter today. Amen.

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


The Direction of Repentence

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

Going with the flow and giving into the demands of our flesh may seem easy and may even feel refreshing at times. It takes very little effort for a dead fish to float downstream. But it is not refreshing and certainly not life giving.

The call to repent and turn is a call to refreshing life in Christ. The enemy and the world assert that turning to Christ is dissatisfaction and denial. But God’s invitation is to swim upstream and enjoy His presence and love. True joy and refreshment is found when we risk swimming deeper in Christ’s love and trusting His loving commands and call to holiness are truly where our security and joy are found.

Be intentional today about the direction you go and the source of joy you pursue. Be intentional.

Busy Monday

Monday, April 8, 2019

Monday. A new week. Before my feet hit the floor I’m often consumed with all the things I need to do. Why? Because, doing is my default position. It’s how I answer my big question – Am I valuable?  My insidious temptation is to link my value to my doing.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?                          Or am I trying to please man?                                                              Galatians 1:10

Doing can be about seeking the approval of man or the approval of God. It is an effort to be for Christ instead of being in Christ. A part of me says that my work, accomplishments, actions and efforts establish or confirm my value. I must be doing for Christ – get up and get busy. But maybe something is more important, more foundational and even more formative to my value.

What if the most important aspect of today is not what you or I do? Then what is it, you ask? What if the most glorious and beautiful part of today is resting in the reality that you are in Christ? You in Christ and Christ in you!

Will you risk beginning the day with a sober stillness of sensitivity to Christ in you. You are a being – a human being, not a human doing – with the Spirit of the Living God within you. Be still and know He is God. Before the storm of busyness floods your mind, grab hold of the reality that all that ever truly needed to be done has already been done by Christ himself.  He is our redemption, our sanctification, our sustainer, our hope, and our assurance of glory in the new heavens. If we trust that He is enough, He has done it all, then our being in Him is enough.  This perspective changes and out of our being comes truly useful, God-centered doing..

BE before you DO today. God is already pleased with you in Christ.

Love Wins

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Do you find it hard to love people different than you? People with different gifts or those you imagine are not believers? What about people that don’t believe just like you? Jesus’ call to us was to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34), and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  It’s a tall order, as we approach Easter, but challenging ourselves to love more like Jesus is good.

What follows makes the point from a different angle. I share this from another blog called JackassTheology. The name may offend, but the thoughts are good.

“It’s easy to see the Spirit of God working in someone who is all about the things you’re all about. But what happens when the Spirit is working outside of the boundaries you carefully maintain?

John Calvin insisted that we ought to learn from and appreciate the insights and skills of everyone around us. This goes for those you admire and those you don’t. It goes for Christians and non-Christians. This is a bit surprising, perhaps, given Calvin’s emphasis on human depravity. But he insists that the knowledge and abilities of human beings—including unbelievers—are gifts they received from the Spirit:

“Whenever we come upon these matters [skill and understanding] in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn [deride, demean, blaspheme] and reproach the Spirit himself.” John Calvin (1509-1564)

Did you catch that? Not only do we need to acknowledge that everyone—including non-Christians—have “that admirable light of truth shining in them,” but we had better be careful to heed and appreciate their insights lest we blaspheme the Spirit. Jesus told us that anyone who speaks against him will be forgiven, but the unforgivable sin is “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” (Luke 12:10). There’s debate about what that means, but let’s agree it’s a strong warning. John Calvin isn’t Jesus, but in this passage, he’s connecting the demeaning of another person’s gifts with the unforgivable sin.”

My take away is to meet every person that crosses my path with honor and appreciation for them as an image bearer; though they, like me, are broken and sinful. They may not praise His name or think of Him as I do, they may offend me or just rub me wrong (that’s about me). Yet, how can I not show them compassion and kindness and love? Christ Jesus carried a heavy cross to Golgotha and suffered and died for my sin. And His love won me.

Today, let love win in you and through you.



Spent for good

Friday, April 5, 2019

Friday. The. Week. Ends. Are you tired? It’s spring break for some, so maybe not. I am spent. Too much travel, too many plates spinning, too many self imposed expectations.  My mind and body are tired.

I wonder how Christ felt with the weight of the world’s sin and His crucifixion just two weeks away. It’s unfathomable to imagine the desolation He was experiencing as a man.

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek YouI thirst for Youmy body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without waterSo I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2

My humanity is painfully obvious to me. My limitations are real. Yet He is with me, so…

My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life. So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. Psalm 63:3-5

In the midst of being beyond my limits, I know He is my satisfaction. The choice is always the water of life or not. God’s satisfying presence or not. Something false, fake – a facade of the fountain of life. That is always the choice – spent or not.

When I think of You as I lie on my bed, I meditate on You during the night watches because You are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings.  I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me. Psalm 63:6-8

I cannot hold on to much, yet I know He holds on to me. I rest in the shadow of His wing, I trust and confidently hope in the Lord. He will renew my strength and satisfy me.

Wherever you are, whatever your strength in this moment, He is calling you in to a deeper relationship with Him. In Him there is sustaining life and the joy of His strengthening presence.  Maybe being spent and thirsty for living waters, deep satisfaction, is really for my good.

Whatever your lot, what will you drink of today?



Real Power

Thursday, April 4, 2019

What is powering you? Is it a desire for success or money? Is it a fear of failure? Is it living up to others expectations? Is it your reputation? Is it the joy of using your gifts? What is it?

So I ask you to make full use of the gift God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well. God’s Spirit doesn’t fill us with fear and cowardice. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news. 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (CEV)

Sometimes we plug into false or inferior sources of power. Like disposable batteries, they work for a time and then are worn out. When we attach ourselves to inferior sources, worldly sources, we live in an illusion and stifle the power of God.

Paul tells young Timothy that God has gifted him with power and love. The power he speaks of is not intellect, athleticism, musical gifting or leadership capabilities. It is not a way with words or persuasive skills. So what is it?

Paul says it is the Spirit’s gift of love and power within him. Jesus said when I go, “I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father” (John 15:26). Paul tells the Colossians, “the glorious riches of this mystery, is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).

Our power, our sustaining and motivating power, the power to love, is anchored in the Spirit of God within us. The ALMIGHTY God, the One with all power and might, has taken up residence in our souls. His power is accessible, now. It is a power he delights to give us because his desire is for his children to thrive and impact our realm.

Today, will you trust in His power and love, and the gift of the Spirit within you? Will you risk believing He is with you and delights to work in and through you? Use the gifts he has given you, enjoy His power and love and His glory and let that alone power you.