Join the Conversation: Learning to Swim

(Join the Conversation – a summer series inviting conversation and engagement. Leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter)

Learning to Swim:

As I taught my son to swim, I encouraged him to jump off the diving board into my arms. He was scared. It took a lot of coaxing. I repeated, “I’ll catch you … I’ve got you … trust me … jump in.” Finally, he leapt into my arms and a big smile came to his little face. Learning  to swim takes trust that the one who promises to catch us will really hold on, and that it will be fun and not kill us.

In John 4 Jesus invites the woman at the well to jump into the living water. She is so exhausted by her circumstances and consumed by the shame of troubled relationships she does not see the refreshing beauty of what Jesus offers.

I get this woman, even though I’ve not been married five times, I have felt overwhelmed by my circumstances. The exhausting shame blocks her from seeing and receiving Jesus love. She’s the person drowning who fights against the one coming to her rescue.

Jesus says, instead of pushing me away – if you knew me, you would ask me if you could jump in the pool with me (v.10 my paraphrase).

Isn’t it true that often our trials block us from recognizing how much Jesus has for us. We flail about attempting to find satisfaction in the plastic water bottles of the world that we miss his ocean of grace.

Jeremiah 2:13 captures the problem:

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

We’re trying to swim in the world’s empty pools and reject the deep love and satisfaction of Christ. Maybe fear, shame, doubt or 100 other distractions keep us from resting in his arms and learning to swim. It’s hard to relax and swim when you’re fearful.

But faith says, I may be fearful, but He is trustworthy. His love is real and strong. We don’t have to be strong to rest in His living water, we simply have to let go of our broken cisterns and accept that he will catch us and hold us, forever.

What might you need to let go of to enjoy the living waters? What if, in reality, you are already in the living waters and held by Jesus? Oh, then I could rest in the safety of his arms and enjoy swimming.

Join the conversation: Be Still and Rest

Rest in a restless world – are you finding it? I AM.

The name of God in Hebrew is made up of four letters which are translated: YHVH or Yahweh. It is often written as LORD in our English Bibles, but in reality it means “I AM.”

Moses encounter this in Exodus 3 as he received instruction from Yahweh to go to Egypt to set the Israelites free. Moses says, “what if the people of Israel ask who sent me and ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Say, “I AM has sent me to you.”

I AM, the eternally existing God of creation, the God whose “BEING” is the cause every thing that is, the Eternal Essence who is the reason for our existence has chosen to make us in his image (Gen 1:26). Therefore we are little I AM’s, uniquely and fearfully made in the image of the Great I AM.

Whenever we speak of our selves using the language “I am __________” we are first uttering the name of God. To speak of my name as in, “I am Rob,” I must first speak the name of God.  Our being flows from his BEING, and bears his image.

So the Psalmist invites us, amidst the flaming arrows of life, nations raging and cosmic chaos, to “be still and know that I AM God” (Psalm 46:10). How can we this be? How can we be still, or rest.

Maybe it depends on who you “be.” Who are you? Whose are you?

If I am, then I am made by and cared for by the Great “I AM.” And more importantly, if He is the Great I AM, the redeemer, our fortress, a very present help in trouble, then I am still and I am resting in knowing the presence and promises of God are with me.

What do you think?

Join the conversation on Facebook or on Twitter @cc_goshen

Join the Conversation: “I’ve got nothing to say.”

Join the conversation is a new blog series inviting engagement over the summer

“I’ve got nothing to say!” Do you ever feel like that? I do.

A friend recently said, “it has been a long time since you’ve written and I enjoy your blog.”

My internal thought was, “I haven’t had anything valuable enough to say.”

In moments like that a message in my head is negative and silencing.

As a pastor sharing God’s word and my heart every week, I say plenty. Intellectually I know I’ve got something to say, but often another stifling message is at work in my head. An internal critic can pound out the power to speak and mute a friends encouragement.

This is the part of me that gets untethered to who I am in Christ. The critic is part of the non-resourceful side of a ONE on the Enneagram. Ennea is Greek meaning “nine.” The Enneagram is a nine point spiritual-psychological inventory to promote awareness and growth of our true self in Christ. I am a One.

Briefly, a resourceful One is intuitive and determined to make things better, to reform and encourage wholeness. A non-resourceful One wrestles with an internal echo of defeating self-evaluation and criticism.

You may not be a One, and that’s not the point. But, who you are in Christ is important.

The point is we all have God given gifts and something to contribute to the conversation. In fact, the body of Christ benefits from all the parts engaging in the conversation and sharing unique perspectives. Engagement is part of knowing one another and growing in Christ together.

So let’s engage. If this resonates with you, share your thought.

P.S. If you would like to know more about and/or take the Enneagram, message me at I’m happy to administer and review with you.

Twisted & Treasured

from Rob Gibson…  a midnight thought Aug 22,2016

I am undeniably broken and not in control of it. 
My need for the Savior is greater than my comprehension. My inability to rescue and reform myself is terribly obvious to me. My need to be plucked from the pit, led from temptation, and forgiven of treason is radically real. As if my mind saw black as white, so twisted can my heart be, so self deceiving and self consumed, upside down and inside out; flesh demanding to be fed when it should rather be crucified. My fate, if left to me alone would surely be total destruction and devastating damage to others. Human sin and brokenness knows no bounds, only twisted convulsions that frustrate heart mind and soul. 

But God. But for the restraining hand of God, but for the mercy of the Father who meets me in death, but for a Savior who stands in my stead, but for a Brother who keeps watch of my soul, but for a Son who laid down His life for mine, but for the King who holds the keys to my life, but for the Lord who offers forgiveness and life, I would be lost. But God, rich in boundless love, has taken me as His beloved. Broken though I am, I am consumed by His love, held as His treasure. Amazing! Unceasing love! Hallelujah what a God, what a Savior! 

What if I Rested?

by Rob Gibson  July 14, 2016

Post #10 in: Gleanings from a Sabbatical Journey…

I was sitting in Starbucks watching a baby boy fall gently asleep in his young mothers arms. He was so peaceful and secure, wrapped in her tender embrace. She gently stroked his forehead, his eyes closed, and his little body melted into her arms. He hadn’t a care, totally unaware of the concerns mom, dad and I discussed. He was safe, secure, deeply loved, and in that love he rested well.  I thought to myself, just give me thirty minutes of rest like that and I could run for a week. Do I know how to rest like that? 

My sabbatical was about rest, but rest is difficult for a workaholic fixer. With so much to fix and reform, how the heck can I rest?! It’s a skill we are born with, like this little boy, and then it seems the woes of the world can wrestle it from us with life consuming burdens. 

The burdens are many: paying the bills, satisfying customers, keeping the kids safe and on track, satisfying the boss, can’t loose this job, gotta make quota, terrorist strike again, need to connect with friends, save for retirement, people are protesting in Dallas, what about a vacation, fixing the car, mowing the lawn, a liar or narcissist is going to ruin the country, got to finish the basement or she’ll be angry, how will we afford college, insurance is killing us. That’s enough to keep me up at night.

The list has so filled my mind for years that I stopped dreaming long ago, or at least I rarely remember my dreams. I’m told I dream, but I remember less than a handful of dreams. A party with Taylor Swift (go figure), a hike in the mountains, a board game on white fluffy clouds. When I was younger, I dreamed, I walked in my sleep, then early in our marriage I talked about work in my sleep – to my wife’s chagrin. Then, until recently, things went blank – no dreams.

I have felt guilty resting. A subtle guilt if I sat to watch golf or took a ride on my motorcycle to nowhere in particular. Guilty because if I’m not moving, and moving with purpose, I have no purpose, no value. It’s a jacked up lie, but a workaholic that performs to earn value isn’t going to rest except when it’s physically demanded. I wanted to rest like that baby. I was certain I had to have it, and I was hopeful it was possible. After all, Jesus said: 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

That sounds fantastic, but how do I access this rest? Maybe a better question is, who snatched it from me? What lying dog told me I had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and fix so much stuff?That little baby was resting in his mothers arms, unconcerned with the woes of the world or our troubles; he simply rested in the loving and trusted arms of mama. I want that! 

To rest, I have to continually reclaim a couple of truths, and kick some lies in the hind-quarters. The lie to silence is, “I’m responsible for everything and I have to fix ‘it’ and everyone.” That is way above my pay grade and human capabilities, and turns me into an agitated control freak. The truth I need is the doctrine of rest. It’s one you’ve probably never focused on, but it’s there. We see it when Jesus says:  

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

This is so freeing because, in essence, Jesus says we can do our work (scatter seed) in the daytime, then go to sleep. Further, while we sleep stuff grows and we don’t know how! In other words, it’s not our responsibility to make it all happen. I am not responsible for the outcome. I don’t have to fix everything or everyone. I am not God and I am not in control. I know this, it’s my heart and soul that need to catch on. I do my best (and even when I don’t he gives me grace) and go to bed and trust the outcome to God. God is responsible for the growth, the result – the harvest.  

This truth gives me the opportunity to lay down my work and rest. It sets me free to breathe deeply, relax, connect to my heart and begin to trust God. This truth welcomes me, at 54, to rest secure as a child in the tender loving arms of my Savior. It invites me to know I am deeply loved, safe, and able to dream again. 

The Illusion of Control

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night overcome by fear? I don’t mean the kind of fear that somebody’s breaking in and trying to kill you. I can fight that fight, or send Margaret to do it. What I mean is the kind of fear that goes deep in your soul. The fear that I could lose my job and not be able to care for my family. The fear that I have not planned appropriately, social security is crashing, and my resources won’t be enough to take care of me in my old age. The fear that if I don’t get busy, get the job done, cover all the bases, save twice as much as I’ve been saving, spend half as much as I’ve been spending, get smart, don’t mess up, run faster and harder, I’m screwed – but that probably won’t be enough either. This is my version of a paralyzing fear that life is coming apart and I can’t control any of it.

It doesn’t happen to me often, but recently at 3AM, while on sabbatical in Colorado, I woke to such a terror. It was triggered by a conversation with a guy that seemed to have it all together. He seemingly saved wisely, planned thoroughly, made good money and was expecting a very healthy retirement, in my opinion.  He similarly wasn’t sure he could live on what he had saved, but it seemed sufficient to me. At 3AM that night I was pretty freaked out; certain my financial ship was too little and the waves too big and everything was way out of control.

If you’re reading this and you’re under 40, this may not resonate with you financially, but it may in other areas of life, like your career, family, worn out cars, or other things that seem out of control. Regardless of the issue, it’s the fear that you’re really not in control of your life. Fear that you cannot protect your children from harm, fearful that things aren’t working out in your world. Fear that terrorism, money, relationships, work, the future is beyond your control.

Of course, things are not ordinarily way out of your control, because you can plan, save, lock your doors and protect your family as best you know. You do your best, forget the rest and normally that seems to work. But still you make mistakes, and stuff happens. And if you think about the bad stuff that could happen, or the good stuff that may not, or when unexpected stuff happens (you can insert a shorter S word here) sometimes it’s messy,  painful, and frightening. We face the reality that we are not in control.

The reality is, beyond the best application of our wits and wisdom, the best application of our gifts, the best planning we can fathom, and the realization we are not always at our best, things are really not in our control. You and I are but one person among nearly 7,000,000,000 humans on the planet and in addition to them, there are 700 billion variables including astroids, atom bombs and even weather anomalies that can take us out in the blink of an eye.

So if you weren’t terrified, maybe you are now. Welcome to my 3AM experience. Misery loves company, let’s freak out together. Or let’s let go of our illusions together.

The truth is I am not in control, and neither are you. The illusion of control is a lie of the enemy. It is a lie meant to steal our joy by filling us with fear and anxiety.

Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

If the enemy can convince us that we are in control, or must strive to be in control, then he’s convinced us that we need be our own god. The lie from the beginning (Gen. 3) is, Turn from God, be your own god, take control! If we buy the lie then we grab at a task that is far too great and burdensome. The job will wreck us; it is a weight we cannot bear and a burden well beyond our capacity. But if we demand to be in control, our joy will be stolen and our peace destroyed. Joy will be replaced by anxiety as we seek to manage things beyond our control; subtly, slowly and frantically we become aware that things will not go well under our control. To depend on self, to cling to self and illusions of control will kill us.

The alternative is to lay down our illusions and live, accepting that we are not in control and that’s ok, God is. To walk in the light of the love of Christ, trusting he is in control and for our good (Ps 118:1; 1Cor.1:8-9; Phil 2:13; Heb.10:23). This feels vulnerable and out of control, because it is a vulnerable place of trust. It is a choice to rest in the safe, strong arms of our Sovereign Father.  It is a choice to live abundantly as His beloved child, not our own master.

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1Thes 5:25).


by Rob Gibson           June 17, 2016

Post #8 in: Gleanings from a Sabbatical Journey…

I just returned from a national convention of similarly striped religious types. It triggered someone in me, someone I want dead, as well as someone I want to thrive. I want a critical spirit to die and the loving encourager to thrive. 
Along my sabbatical journey, I read a piece that stuck me. It resonated too deeply for comfort and uncovered a deadly part of me. The sub-heading was “ The Compulsive Minister” — One who is angry and greedy for more. It slew me when I read:
“Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart.” The Way of the Heart, Henri J.M. Nouwen

This pricked me as it revealed a seething dissatisfaction with myself and the results I greedily demand. It was triggered this week as demands for more baptisms, more passion, more of a burdened heart, more, more, and more were intensely preached. The desired results had been weighed and measured and found lacking.
I have a perpetually active evaluator in my head, heaping the messages “not enough,” “get it right,” and “do more” at me all the time. I do not need anybody singing with that choir. Rather, the choir we all need to hear more is a gospel choir, and the gospel is good news, not condemnation. The gospel is that Jesus Christ loved you and me to death, in spite of our falling short of the mark. His love is not measured or withheld based on our performance but rather abundantly flowing to us like the perpetually deep and fresh waters of a raging waterfall. The rivers of grace are full, even when I am empty and my striving stumbles and stalls. 

What I need and I believe the church and the world needs is a lot more Barnabas! Barnabas is a name that means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas encouraged the Christian community and the Apostles by his generosity (Acts 4:36-37). When Paul returned to Jerusalem, after his conversion, it was Barnabas that encouragingly introduced this former murderous persecutor of the church to the Apostles (Acts 9:27) when they were afraid of him and seriously doubted his Christianity. The son of encouragement propelled the greatest missionary ever to press on. He didn’t identify all the failures, foibles or faults in the man, which, by his own admission, were many (1Tim 1:15). Rather he focused on the possibilities, the opportunities and what could be. 

Like Jesus with Peter after his triple denial, he did not castigate his friend, but knew there was a passionate loving shepherd in Peter that needed to be encouraged to step into the love and power within him (2Tim 1:7). Jesus was an encourager — encouraging each of us to embrace the truth of his love for us. He invited sinners to lay down deadly ways of self-satisfaction and to receive the abundant life he offers (John 10:10). 

I want to be a Barnabas, not a critic. I want to live in Jesus abundant love and walk kindly, patiently and generously with others in the light of his love, even when we miss the mark. Let’s encourage each other to live in the freedom and love that is ours in Christ and run together into the glory that is increasingly ours in Christ (2Cor. 4:17-18).