Sep 26, 2013

Stop Acting Like An Adult!

I spent some time with two of my grandchildren this past week and I realized that one of the joys that I have at this age in my life is the ability to once again be a dad. No, Cathy is not pregnant, but as a grandfather, I get to re-live some of the joyful experiences that I went through when my own children were young.

For instance, I get to enjoy the simple joy of the grandchildren running to me as they hold up their arms requesting that I hold them. I so much appreciated that when my own children were young and would greet me at the door each night when I came home from work.

And often times they had something that they made for me or something to show me and had been waiting all day for me to get home. I was the object of their attention and the target of their affections. Nothing else really mattered!

And you know what; how they looked or what they wore at that moment didn’t really matter. And this is from one who has sent several suit coats to the dry cleaners over the years to get the “spit-up’ cleaned off it. But, before I cleaned it up, I wore it like a badge of honor!

One of the things that I realized about them is that when they come into a room where I am, they simply come as they are; “messy diaper and all”. They don’t seem to mind that their diapers are full or that their face has something on it that they ate. Their shirt can be clean or dirty; it really doesn’t matter, nor does the mud on their shoes. Their hair can be perfectly combed or “bed-hair” and they will still want me to pick them up and hold them because they are happy to see me.

Children don’t ask if there is going to be enough money to pay the bills of if there will be food on the table or clothes for the next big event in their lives. They simply trust and almost assume that those things will always be there. Children sing and dance like no one is watching and they aren’t concerned if they are doing it exactly right or on key.

Jesus said; “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 NKJV)

Perhaps what Jesus is telling us is that His Father isn’t as hung up on how we look or smell or how well we sing or dance; He simply wants to be with us. And to truly enter into the fullness of that relationship and His kingdom, we are going to have to stop “acting like an adult” and come to Him as a child.

He is the object of our attention and the target of our affections. Nothing else really matters! It’s all about relation with a Father who longs to be with His children.

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom He stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on My account, it’s the same as receiving Me.” (Matthew 18:2-5 MSG)

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

Sep 19, 2013

We All Fall

This past week, I spent two wonderful days at a Pastor’s Gathering dialoging around the subject of “Grace and Restoration”. This was a gathering of pastors and ministry leaders from around the country who had a heart to see the church once again be a vibrant place in the world.

One of the speakers said something amazing. He told us that when his son was learning how to skateboard, he bought him some elbow and knee pads as well as a helmet because falling was part of the process of learning how to use a skateboard. He said; similarly,  “Falling is part of the process of learning how to walk”.

I thought of how when teaching kids how to skate, we teach them as soon as they step on ice how to fall down. This way, they learn how to get up as well as learn that falling is part of the process of learning to skate.

The same is true for so many areas such as riding a bike or a horse. And each time that someone does fall, they are told to immediately get back up and try again. This is just part of the process.

So why, the speaker pondered out loud, do we not allow new Believers in Christ to go through a process of learning how to walk? Why not almost assume that they will fall and instead teach them how to get back up and keep going?

Why do we insist on telling them (or at least imply) that once a person makes a decision to follow Jesus by confessing with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believing in their heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, they will be saved from falling?

Why not instead tell them that Jesus will continue to work on your life and that sometime along your journey you may slip or even fall?  Why not tell them that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 10:23-24 NKJV)

In the Christian walk, we all either slip, fall, or have the possibly of doing so at some point(s) along the way so why not admit it and help the newbies to understand that it is just part of the process and that they need not be afraid or discouraged when it happens?

Or are verses such as; “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16a) reserved to encourage someone who has never struggled that he should get back up?

I think that this insight would have saved me a lot of times of distancing myself from the Heavenly Father; from whom I hid myself when I sinned, even though He longed to be in relationship.

Too many moments and days and months were spent in a long distance relationship with One who gave His very life to provide a way for me to spend time with Him by demonstrating His own love toward us, in that while I was in my sin and didn't know Him, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

And He did it KNOWING that I was a sinner and KNOWING that I was fallible and would push past the roadblocks that He set up top provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

All this He did KNOWING that falling was just part of the process of me learning to walk.

Because He did it for me, I want to learn how to encourage others away from discouragement of their own fallibility when they forget that falling is part of the process of learning to walk. So get back up and keep walking; we all have more places to go in Him!


Sep 12, 2013

Extra Ordinary in the Ordinary

They were ordinary purple flowers that were growing in our yard; nothing special about them. They had surrounded a bird feeder that had not used for the past two years. The plan was to remove them and the bricks surrounding them and replace the small flower garden with sod. I was waiting for the right combination of free time and cooler weather.

And yet, today as I watered the gardens and my lawn I noticed something extra ordinary among these ordinary flowers. On the purple flowers was the most beautiful yellow monarch that I have seen. Two days before I had seen two orange monarchs on these flowers; the first monarchs we had seen all summer! Extra ordinary in the ordinary; I was glad that I hadn’t gotten around to removing the flowers yet.

They were ordinary orange colored flowers that were growing in our yard; nothing special about them. A young neighbor child had given them to us as seeds to plant in one of our many flower gardens. We planted them mostly to please him because he liked to come into our yard and look at all of our vegetable and flower gardens. He also was my stand-in to pick the daily bucket of raspberries from our garden when I was out of town this summer. His role was simply to eat them so that they wouldn’t go to waste; a role he seemed very happy to do.

Today, on the orange colored flowers, I noticed a hummingbird lingering in no apparent hurry as it went from flower to flower. This was the second day in a row that I had seen it. Yesterday it stayed for about two minutes as I stood and watched it with my granddaughter. Extra ordinary in the ordinary; I was glad that we had planted those simple orange flower seeds from the young child.

Ordinary humming birds and butterflies can be extra ordinary when you don’t see them very often and they come as a surprise when you don’t expect them. My guess is that they have been around for awhile, but I hadn’t seen them before. I pondered; “what else have I been missing that lives in our yard?’

Jeremiah 33:3 came to my mind which says; Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (NKJV)

What does ‘great and mighty things’ mean? Could it be that the God who created this great and wonderful planet wants to show us extra ordinary things in our ordinary lives? Could it be that we are so used to going through our (sometimes) mundane days that we never even ponder if there could be more than what we see? Is it possible that there really is something more than this?

You, we, I will never know unless we call out to Him and expect that He will show us extra ordinary in the ordinary that we call life.


Sep 5, 2013

Expect Delays

Recently, I was driving on a highway and I saw a road sign that said; “Construction Ahead: Expect delays”. The sign is trying to communicate that not only is there is construction on the road ahead, but also that I can EXPECT; that I should look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of some DELAYS.

In other words the construction ahead will be impeding the process or progress of my journey home and the sign was pre-warning me so that didn’t think it to be strange when I come to the delays. Although I wasn’t in any hurry to get home, I wasn’t looking forward to adding to the two and half hour trip.
The lyrics to a song came to my mind;
“He's never early, never late. It takes courage and it takes faith. Trust Him, you'll see He's go all the power you need…” (from “All The Power You Need” By Darlene Zschech)

Over and over as I crawled through the construction zone with the delays (yes, they had accurately predicted it!), the song kept going through my mind; “Trust Him, you'll see He's go all the power you need…”

As I pondered this song, I thought of how often when the Lord is working in our lives there always seem to be delays. But I hadn’t thought of the idea of EXPECTING the delays as part of the “construction” process in our lives.

“He's never early, never late. It takes courage and it takes faith. Trust Him, you'll see He's go all the power you need…”

If we can EXPECT DELAYS in the world of construction, then why should it surprise us when the Lord seems to delay? Why should it concern us or seem strange if the One who is in charge of it all chooses to take HIS time on some area of our lives?

I also thought of 1 Peter 4:12-13 which tells me to … not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice…” (NKJV).

Eugene Peterson translates 1 Peter 4:12-13 this way; Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (MSG)

If in your life when you see that there is “Construction Ahead: Expect delays”, trust Him that He knows what He is doing and He will get the job done (on time and under budget!)

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Philippians 1:6 MSG)

 Video: "All The Power You Need" By Darlene Zschech

New King James Version (NKJV)  The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

"All The Power You Need" By Darlene Zschech
My God can never fail
He's been proved time and again
Trust Him, you'll see
He's got all the power you need

He's never early, never late
It takes courage and it takes faith
Trust Him, you'll see
He's go all the power you need

He saves, forgives and heals
Takes back what the devil steals
My debt's been paid in full
And every day, He does miracles

I got dreams, turn them into plans
Too big for human hands
Trust Him, you'll see
He's got all the power you need

He's real, He's real
Faith's a lot stronger
Than what you feel
He's real, He's real
I'm believing for miracles

Trust Him, you'll see
He's got all the power you need
All the power you need