Determination for the Day!

A Psalm of Determination

Psalm 27:13-14 ~  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

I highly recommend you read the whole Psalm 27, only 14 verses, but it help you gain an understanding of where David’s coming from. He’s determined in his heart that, come what may, “God’s got this.” The whole world can walk out on him, family can leave him, the enemy can set their mind on destruction but he will continue on doing what he’s called to do and he’ll do it in confidence. Not because he’s a mighty warrior, but because he serves a mighty God. Not because he’s got great wisdom, but because He serves the God of all wisdom. David said he’d have passed out if he didn’t believe that he would see the goodness of God, the victory!

Been there? Where you just want to “wake up when it’s over.” Frustration has mounted to the point that you think it’s going to topple over and crush you. It’s blocked your vision of all else, especially hope of a good end and then you hear…“Wait.” A four letter word in the vocabulary of someone like me who doesn’t understand why anyone would want to wait, when you could leap. So God says it again, because He knows I likely won’t listen to the first one. “wait, I say, on the Lord.”

This is a very short blog post this morning, I have to be on the road at 5:30 a.m. But I didn’t want to start my day without an encouraging thought. I’ve had a couple of hard knocks this week. Nothing major in the scope of life, but none the less a thorn in my side that I really would like God to remove. But I hear “wait, I say, on the Lord.” I’d still rather jump. But if I put my confidence in Him (that’s courage) He’ll give me strength to wait. Waiting takes restraint. Again… something I’m not very good at. But I’ll wait. Because God said, “it’s good, not I’m good.” He knows me, and praise His Holy Name, I know Him.

The “Stuff” Good and Bad Days are made of

I discovered a new phrase this morning as I clicked onto the homepage of www.biblegateway.com to read scripture. In one of their articles was the phrase “thought leaders.” It was a reference to people they’d interviewed for an article. Their thought lead my thought down this path this morning; who’s thoughts are we leading and how? Attitudes are formed in the bowels of mankind; you can take that however you’d like but the Bible speaks often of bowels in relationship to the heart. In the Song of Solomon 5:4 Solomon wrote “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him” in reference to his loves delight in his return home. It’s not the most romantic of words in our culture but it speaks of the queasiness you feel when you love someone that much. We flower it up by saying we get “butterflies in our stomach.” And the same queasiness or uneasiness in our soul can be stirred up in strife or anger. It is then nausea and it’s often spewed forth in vile words that are meant to produce nausea in the life of someone else. It’s the “stuff” good and bad attitudes are made of.

David wrote in Psalm 94:11, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” Most of our thoughts are self-centered in some form or another. Even our grandest, most unselfish ideas have at their core the idea that it will work to our favor somehow. It’s the nature of man. We most often think that we are superior to those around us in way and in deed. When someone belittles us or speaks unkind we don’t usually think “Oh, that’s okay, I did that to so and so last week.” No, we usually think, “Who do you think you are?” Those thoughts and actions turn our thoughts and actions into a negative state, and by that we are now “Thought leaders.” We have set the tone for the day. We’re far more powerful than we comprehend.

By the same token a kind word or deed can create a positive spin to a conversation and everyone leaves with their bowels refreshed. When’s the last time you said that in a conversation? Paul said it to Philemon in his letter in Philemon 1:7 ~ “For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee.” Again, it’s a cultural thing, but it’s so fitting; because in the pit of our stomach is where those emotions reveal themselves.

So what should we do about our thoughts? After all many of them are controlled by circumstances we’re not in control of. A little self-examination goes a long way. David said in Psalm 119:59 ~ “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” The Word of God is a thought changer. We have to go into every day understanding that we are one bad situation away from vain ideas. One negative comment either to us or from us that ruins an entire day. But the Word of God can change all that. If we have started our day reading and contemplating what thus saith the Lord we’ve put goodness into our heart, and if we dwell on His thoughts, our thoughts can be pushed aside. And if we’re confronted by a “Negative Nellie,” we can thwart Satan’s plan, and his bad day intentions will have gone awry!

Praise God the Lord doesn’t think like we do. Psalm 92:5 ~ O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. Our shallow thoughts cannot compare. How much greater to think on His thoughts than ours and to lead those around us down His path.

The Fallacy of a Fairy-tale

The Cinderella moments in life are often sparse. Those times when there is a sweet harmony, everybody looks pretty and works together to make good things happen. Perhaps the season before the ball is how we can more identify with her. Cinderella’s life was anything but perfect. The same characters in the story of Cinderella are present in our lives and every day Satan sets them into our path as a stumbling block in hopes of thwarting those Cinderella moments.

The wicked stepmother

Miss negativity herself, the deva of DOUBT. We scoff at poor Thomas for doubting the Lord and yet every day doubt creeps into my life. I don’t need anyone telling me I’m not good enough, I got the market cornered on that one. Jesus said in Matthew 21:21 ~ … Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.  In Christ we have the power to move every mountain that stands in our path, but it’s our own disbelief that can cause us to listen to a naysayer or our own negative attitude and give up on the journey before it’s ever begun.

The ugly stepsisters

Damsels of DISCOURAGEMENT. What a number they did on poor Cinderella. Over and over they used their power and position to tear her down. They flaunted their goodly apparel and taunted her over her rags. How could she possible think she was worthy of going to the ball, look in the mirror for crying out loud, who could love that!  Wow… I just wrote my world. How could I possibly think that I deserve Heaven or the goodness thereof when my tattered worldly garment is filthy and covered with sin? Most of the time I don’t view myself as a child of the King (one of my favorites songs that I sing) but more aptly see myself as the beggars daughter, and yet scripture says in Galatians 4:8-9 ~ Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Why do we listen?

The fairy godmother

The dame of DISILLUSION. She was good in the story of Cinderella, but our lives are not a fairytale. They’re real. Very real. There is no “bippity boppity boo” and life is all better. Sometimes the dress doesn’t fit and the ride isn’t a chariot but rather a two door Chevette with a faulty transmission. Magic doesn’t always happen. What then? Enter the stepmother and stepsisters into our lives again, and this time they’re set on destruction. Life isn’t always going to be perfect, so how do we deal with what’s real?

We rely on the Prince. They don’t call Him the Prince of Peace for no reason.

That mountain that needs moved, He’s the great excavator!

The mirror that’s mounted before you. That’s how you see you, not how the Lord sees you. You’re in a robe of white friend!

The magic that’s missing? No it’s not magic. It’s the God of Daniel, the same God of Shari who Nebuchadnezzer  proclaimed when he discovered the truth.

Daniel 4:7-8 ~ Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,

The magicians couldn’t make sense of Nebuchadnezzer’s dream, and the world can’t make sense of your dreams either. But the truth of the matter is we serve a God Who put’s dreams in your heart, and they’re not a fairytale, they’re real. And He can bring them to pass. But just like Daniel you have pray and stay in the Word of God so that He can reveal the truth and you’re not off chasing a pumpkin being pulled by mice.

What Prompted that?

The memory is a funny thing, not funny haha but in the peculiar sense of the word. Out of the blue I’ll have a crazy thought come into my mind, a blast from the past so to speak, and I’ll wonder what on earth prompted that thought. A flood of emotions often comes along with it and a renewed sense of happiness, sadness or fear depending upon the memory. Spiritually I do the same. Sometimes it’s a scripture I’ve read, or sermon I’ve heard; other times it’s a failure that I’ve committed and my heart twists and breaks again as if I’d just done it again. Other times I’ll grapple with remembering even the smallest of things and think I’ve lost my mind all together. That’s a pretty frequent occurrence.

One of my favorite bible characters that I identify with on so many levels (mostly of failure) is Peter. I “get” his “leap and the net will appear, speak before you think, I’ll never forsake you Lord” attitude. It really does define me.

Matthew 26:75 ~ And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter remembered his promise; he remembered the friend he said he’d be. And now look….what a mess he was in. What a failure. What a friend? Why could not his memory have failed him this time? Why did he have to recall that day when he had so boldly proclaimed his dedication to the Lord? Peter failed Christ just as we all do and God brings it to mind not to reprimand us again, He forgave it when it occurred; but more as a catapult to launch us forward and to keep us from a repeat performance. Peter wept bitterly that night, but later Peter won thousands to the Lord!

My Dad went home to be with Jesus several years ago, and just weeks before he did I was visiting him in his hospital room with my Mother. Dad’s memory never failed him, God was so gracious with us on that. He sat on the side of his bed and recalled being five years old and sitting beneath an apple tree looking down on his parents who were working in a field. As a five year old he told God, “If you let me keep my parents until they’re old, I’ll serve you.” With tears in his eyes he told us of how God reminded him of his childhood prayer when he was 30 years old and he heard the words of God prompt his memory by saying “You promised.” Dad gave his life to Christ and began serving the Lord and what a servant he was! That memory launched him. Yes he had failed God. He’d not lived for Him as he’d promised, but he would then.

Peter failed. Dad failed. I’ve failed and you’ve failed. It’s a fact of life. Use that error in judgment as a catapult to service. God knows you’re better than that because it is He created you better than that. Peter continued on, still making mistakes because he was human, but God used him to win thousands to the Lord and we’re still talking about him today. Satan will take a failure and remind you again and again of who you were; remind him of who he is. A fallen angel with a future in hell. You are child of God with a future in Heaven.

Memories are sometimes painful. Make them purposeful.

Are You Somebody to Anybody?

Living in a small rural community has its pros and cons. For one thing everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows everything about everybody. There are busybodies and nobodies, and people who think they are somebodies. When something happens to somebody everybody talks about it and sometimes the truth isn’t even in the middle; but it made for interesting conversation on the porch on a Saturday night. And sometimes makes for interesting prayer requests on Sunday morning. That’s rural community in a nutshell. Everybody knows just enough about everything to be dangerous, but we’re still community, at least for now.

Rural community is at risk of becoming a victim of the global community. The information highway has opened portals to wild and exotic places that can make community look very routine. Families have lost focus of one another and smartphones having stolen their lives. Color me guilty. It wasn’t until I read an article, (yes it was online) about a recent murder in San Francisco, where multiple times prior to shooting and killing a young man, a video camera caught the murderer as he brandished and pointed his weapon at others on the train unnoticed. No one noticed until he fired a fatal shot.

John 2:1-10

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

So what does the wedding of Cana have to do with a murder on a train in San Francisco?

Family and Community.

Jesus and the disciples had been invited to the wedding for which Mary is keenly aware of the orchestration of the event. When the wine was running empty it was she who brought the news to Jesus. I have to wonder if she had not seen Him perform a miracle or two before. Surely He had practiced and she was His mother after all. Do you suppose? Anyway…back to my point. Jesus was all about the community. He was where they were. He wasn’t hold up in room somewhere.

He was among them.

He celebrated their victories, He came to their house for dinner, and He was at the festivals and fairs. Community was important to Him and it should be to us. Church is of great importance, but a family dinner or event has a place in our lives. And while we’re there the phones should be put away and our focus on those around us.

He was aware of them

His mother brought the need for wine to His attention and you get the feeling He scolded her somewhat when he said Woman, what have I to do with thee? I don’t get the feeling it was in anger but more as one of those conversations between Mother and Child, “Really Mom, you want me to do that here?” mine hour is not yet come. He wasn’t ready to divulge that He was Lord, but she knew. Perhaps she’d watched Him practice.

He was accountable for them

The wine may have seemed like a trivial thing, but it was important to the community. There could have possibly been shame on the bridegroom for not having prepared adequately for the event. Shame that they spoke about for months down the line, you know how small communities are. But Jesus took care of it. They’d be talking about this party for months to come but not for shame, for glory!

Jesus was all about community! I hope this weekend you’ll spare a little time for your community. Put the cell phone away, call a few friends, go to someone’s house for dinner or invite them into yours. Be among them, be aware of them, and make yourself accountable to see that small community lives on.

What Are You Spreading?

Sponge People

In reading Psalm 22 this morning chills ran down my spine as my thoughts ran through the words of David in verse 13-19:

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

You cannot help but see the correlation between David’s Psalm and the crucifixion of Christ. Whether or not David knew the weight these words would carry, I don’t know. But the church is without excuse as we carry them forward.

The final two verses of this Chapter, verses 30-31 read

A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

Verses 13-19 – That’s Christ.

Verses 30-31 – That’s Christ and us.

The Bible promises that until the end of time the Word will be taught in this place by these people of God that He’s chosen and He’s holding Himself accountable for it. If the Lord, the Creator of all, is holding Himself accountable for the Word, should we not hold ourselves accountable for the delivery of it? There are far too many people sitting idle in the churches across America giving way to every excuse in the book on why it’s not their responsibility to further the gospel. They’re soakers.

It reminded me somewhat of a kitchen sponge this morning. When the water of the Word flows into them, they enjoy it and they soak it up, the Holy Spirit gets into the mix and is like a detergent scrubbing the soul squeaking clean and then they leave the church and go back into the community. There they brush up against the germy counters of their lives and bits and pieces of the world’s pollution clings to them and as they go on their way they distribute bits and pieces of that pollution themselves because they haven’t got back to the Water to get cleansed again. It’s not wash day after all. And then wash day comes again. Sunday…more Word….more cleansing… and out they go again. I don’t know if you’ve ever kept a sponge for a while and didn’t use it a lot, but it gets this funky smell to it that eventually won’t wash out and you just have to throw it away, its spreading more germs than cleanliness.

The same is true in a Christian life when they don’t hold themselves accountable for the collection and distribution of the Word. In place of the Word they’re not reading, the world heaps into their soul polluted thoughts and those are the things that are spread. Where, if every day they’d just have taken a little time to let the water of the Word cleanse them again, it is those thought that would be distributed.

We’re not all called to be preachers, or teachers but we are called to serve Him. And that service is not an allotted time between 11 and noon on Sunday morning. You’re His. He is holding Himself accountable for making sure you have the Word that He willingly died for.

What are you doing with it?

Don’t Judge me for Judging You

How many times have we heard “Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.” Or “You have no idea how I feel on the inside so stop judging me on the outside.” And one of the most quoted Bible verses is Matthew 7:1 ~ Judge not, that ye be not judged.

And yet I confess to you that I judge people.

When Jesus spoke these Words, it was a warning to His disciples not to be like the religious Pharisees. Not to look at the lives of others and make our word law to determine right and wrong by our standards and what we deemed as acceptable. He was not referring to scriptural evaluation of living standards. And if the scripture is the standard for judging I can assure you I have a few beams in my eye that need removing before I ever cast judgment on any one. But… I’m still gonna judge, so don’t judge me for it.

That statement is almost as ridiculous as the man I heard say “I’m Catholic but my wife is a practicing Catholic.” He was telling this to the cute little Amish man that I love at Zinck’s Inn in Berlin, Ohio. He had ask him to explain the Amish faith, and once he had shared the Amish faith background the man felt the need to justify his life by his practicing, non-practicing statement. I would have laughed out loud had it not reminded me of a few Baptist I know.

I know, I know, there I go judging again.

But keep reading Matthew 7 and you’ll come to the verses 15-20

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Is that not a form of judging to look upon the life of another and examine their effectiveness and legitimacy for the cause of Christ? Sure it is. That’s not judging them by my standards, which is often pathetic, but it’s judging them by the Word of God. Does what they’re saying line up with what God says we’re supposed to do? Hello practicing, non-practicing whatever denomination you cling to. It’s not an unwarranted act of judgment when I examine your life with an attitude of concern for both your soul and the souls for which you touch.

It’s my greatest fear that I’m going to end up with blood on my hands because I failed to tell someone the truth about salvation. And by the way, it’s not biblical to be a non-practicing anything. If you’re not serving God, you’re serving Satan. Plain and simple. So before you judge me for judging you ask yourself this question.

When is the last time you’ve done as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

When I read those words I can’t help but heap conviction upon my own soul. That’s a righteous judgment. The one that forces me to look back upon myself with the same measure and ask  “when is the last time?” I do teach the Word of God, I do share the gospel in this “Jesus Chick” place, but I am a far cry from the measure of Christ’s expectation of the church. I do not die daily. I do not always pick up my cross and carry it boldly. SometimesI lay it down and sit on it for fear of being too “preacher-y”. It is in those times that I am a non-practicing Christian. Because if you look at the standard of Christianity in scripture they didn’t lay it down. They were crucified on it.

So don’t judge me for judging you. I just need to know if you know Jesus.

Fig Leaf Faith (the big cover up)

Genesis 3:7-11

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Adam and Eve had just made the fatal mistake of eating the forbidden fruit. They no longer were blessed with the innocence afforded them at creation; and their first reaction to their new found knowledge was “Let’s cover it up.” Outwardly they were the same that day as they were the day before, but inwardly things had drastically changed. They knew still knew right, but they also knew wrong. Their nakedness had meant nothing the day before, but suddenly now it was an issue. As they heard God approaching the garden as He had done so many times before they covered themselves with fig leaves and hid behind the trees of the garden fearing what was to come. They had also just discovered trouble…

God has a few questions for them: Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat what I told you not too? (Paraphrased by me).

It seemed to me to be the reverse of Salvation.

“I’m here Lord.”

“I’m covered by the blood.”

“Thank you for forgiveness.”

Only then we revert back to the garden ways. We discover there is a lot wrong with us. And we hide ourselves among the trees and cover ourselves up in dread of God coming close. And God asks again, “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” Who uncovered your sins?

It’s for certain that God didn’t. The same one who took the innocence of Adam and Eve is still taking it today. He’s the father of lies and the last thing he wants is you walking close the truth. So you messed up. The next thing you do is begin the cover up. Rather than walking with God you suddenly find yourselves out in the wilderness, away from church and reading the Word of God, hunkered down in hopes He doesn’t come by. And then He calls you out and your heart begins to thump out of your chest because you know you’ve just been busted. And He asks that question. “Who told thee that thou wast naked?”

We don’t get it. God covered us with the blood of Jesus the day we accepted Him as Savior. But Satan lies and tells us that our sin is exposed and we need to run from God because wrath will follow. And we begin the fig leaf fallacy. I’ll cover it up with goodness, busyness, work, contributions. Things that don’t require me getting too close to God, because He’s upset.

I’m reminded of a friend who’s blind and serves in the ministry under a powerhouse preacher. In one of their leadership meetings the Preacher had just raked them across the coals because of issues that happened while he was out of town. They exited the meeting and my blind friend said to someone standing close by, “Boy, the big guy was upset today, wasn’t he?” To which that person replied “I am the big guy!”

I crack up every time I think of that story! The “big guy” was right beside him all along.

And so is God. And yes I think God gets upset with us, and He expects repentance for sin. But He still asks. “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” You can’t do anything to hide what you’ve done. I know. Now move on, you’re covered.

If Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit they’d have never known “wrong.” But they did, and now we all know it. But we’re not naked. Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and it’s time to stop buying the lies of Satan that puts so many Christians out of commission and back in the trees.

Time is short. Get busy!

Discouraged? Have I got a verse for you!

It’s not hard to find discouragement in the world. Look at any number of posts on Facebook or Twitter and you find a world of hurt. Bring up the subject with friends and most will have an immediate recitation of events and dates. People let us down, we let ourselves down, life doesn’t go as planned and then Satan jumps on the bandwagon and shouts “They’re playin’ my song!” And we, in our weakened state say “Play it again Sam…” And rehearse the heartache again and again until it consumes us and we’re miserable. I speak truth because I’ve lived it.

When my children were small and someone or something had made them upset, all I wanted to do was hold them; I wanted to fix their world. The smaller they were the simpler it was, but as they grew so grew the complexity of their hurt and my hugs no longer had the impact I desired. They grew up and made the world their own and found somebody else to hold them when there was pain. They married and together those new found friends gave me grandbabies and the circle continues. That circle of life that is filled with an abundance of love, pain, and discouragement. That circle continues too.

It is in those times when we’re all grown up that the world seems the harshest and it’s in those times when I’ve found the God sized lap that I can climb into and He holds me just like I held my girls when they were small.

In search of encouragement this morning I found the sweetest verse that gave me a glimpse inside Heaven. When God was about to send Jesus into the world as our Savior, He was still His Son. He wanted to fix our world so bad that He’d do the unthinkable as a parent and sacrifice that which He loved most. And Jesus went voluntarily without hesitation because He wanted to fix our world too. Together the Father and Son had had the perfect life, but for the first time Jesus was going to experience life the way we know it to be, very imperfect. I could imagine the words in Isaiah 42:6 to have been the conversation between God and His Son…

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

“I will hold thine hand.” Is that not the sweetest thought ever? That God, the Creator of all tells the Son, the Creator of all, I called you and I promise to stand by You and strengthen You. He promises to hold His hand not only in the work but when the world lets Him down. When the angel was sent from heaven to strengthen him in his agony in the garden, just before He went to the cross, God fulfilled that promise. And it’s a promise that carries over to us. He’s called us and will in no way turn His back on us, but His unchanging hand will hold our hand as a loving Father does through it all.

Discouraged? Take heart that Your Father, the Creator of all has your hand, and He’s not letting go. Look up!

Shipwrecked Faith

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain: Shipwreck at sunset

I Timothy 1:19 ~ Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

I often question why I see people walking away from God. How one minute you can be upon the mountain and the next minute they’re at the lowest depths of the seas. I don’t understand how you can stand and praise God for all He’s done for you, how much He’s done in your life and then fail to mention Him, come to church or seem care about spiritual things. And then I realize that without God’s grace my faith could have been shipwrecked as well. I don’t ever want anyone to think that I am above failure in spiritual matters, lest I be the next one that falls. I heard someone say the other day that they would have gotten upset over someone spreading lies on them until they realized the lie wasn’t as bad as the reality the person didn’t know. Yea, I feel like that.

Reality Check

I haven’t suffered like Paul or any number of my friends; so I cannot say I understand their pain. I can say that I’ve witnessed saints of God in the face of horrific battles come out praising God. I’ve watched them do it quietly and I’ve watched them do it loudly. They had only One common thread running through their lives, Christ. He’s the reality check. Without Him, none of it would make sense. Paul had been literally shipwrecked, beaten within an inch of his life, jailed and abused and yet praises God through it all. Because Paul did his own reality check; he looked to Christ, and then lived his life through Christ. Paul’s scars were many, but not as many as the Lord’s. Paul had been forsaken, but not as many times as Christ. Christ had no sin and yet was willing to die in the place of all sinners; Paul had sinned, slain those who he now called brothers and sisters, could he not at least live for Christ. A reality check for me is the fact that any conversation I have with Paul or Christ when I get to Heaven will not start out with “Let me tell you what happened to me on earth…” No. I don’t think I’ll be showing them the scar of hurt feelings, career let downs, or any other of the many things that have happened in my life that I thought were devastating. They won’t compare. So my trivial excuses for allowing my faith to get shipwrecked won’t fly in the face of the reality of what Christ can do. He’s so much more than we give Him credit for.

Reasoning Choices

A shipwrecked faith is a choice. And perhaps I should define “shipwrecked faith” as the abandonment of faith, not the doubt or temporary setback any one of us can experience. I’m talking walking out on God and never looking back. Those who do have to reason within their minds the choice they’ve made. But one reasoning I’ve yet to understand, and pray I never do is, how do you reason away the peace of God? Every trial I’ve been through draws me closer to Him because I know He alone is my Hope. So to walk away from that is leaving all hope behind, and is it not human nature to desire hope?

I guess this thought is heavy on my heart this morning because it’s Homecoming Sunday at our church. And I can’t help but think, just for a minute, on those who aren’t coming. Over the years we’ve lost so many who have walked out on God. Not gone to another church and served elsewhere, just quit! They chose to crash the ship of grace into the jagged rocks of despair. They could have landed the ship on the Rock of Jesus Christ Himself and He would have steadied the craft, but instead they got out of the boat and fought the waves on their own. Crazy, right? It may be a metaphor, but if you’re out of the boat, you know what I mean.

Come Home. Peace, Hope and Joy are waiting at the door.