Tag Archives: god

Still Moments – Mountain of God

20130807-110438.jpg Though I walk through…
Through the valley deep, through the valley dark, through the valley of the shadow of death.
I will fear no evil for I am not alone. God’s glory will be revealed in me and through me. I will stand upon the mountain.

Do you know the valley? Today, be still and makes the words of 1Peter 1:6-7 your prayer.

Lord, change my heart. Help me to see the joy that lies ahead on your mountaintop. Even today, though I may have to endure many trials, help my heart to grasp the knowledge that these trials will show that my faith is genuine. Your word says my faith is being tested and purified and strengthened, so that when it remains steadfast through these trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor. My head may know that Lord, but today, help me to be still so that my heart knows that as well. Help me to raise my eyes from the valley to mountaintop, to the place where you reign. Strengthen my resolve to put one foot in front of the other until I emerge from my valley.

You can’t DO peace…

20130806-095932.jpg

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm. Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace. (Celtic Traditional)
If you claimed yesterday’s prayer as your own (More than a cliché) and found your heart longing for more than a cliché as I did, the next logical question is, “So, now what?” You have a longing for something more. For me that longing is for calm, for peace, for still waters. Don’t we all want that? Peace in your family. Peace in your marriage. Peace in your job. Peace from an illness. Peace from pain. Sometimes it feels like we are engaged in a great battle and all we want is a break, an opportunity to say “Time out!” so that we can catch our breath before re-engaging. If you are like me you have recognized your need for something more and you have realized your inability to find this on your own. Without the hand of the savior guiding and holding onto us we will inevitably slip back into our old patterns and tendencies. I get very quickly tired of battling against my sinful nature when I try to do it on my own. I do not have enough in me, on my own, to defeat all that weighs me down. That is when we need to cry out “Lord, save me!”

“I find rest in God; only he gives me hope. He is my rock and my salvation. He is my defender; I will not be defeated. My honor and salvation come from God. He is my mighty rock and my protection. People, trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our protection.” (Psalm 62:5-8)

Max Lucado says, “We must let go of our own security to experience lasting peace. Lasting peace comes only from God. We cannot have the peace of God until we have peace with God.” I personally love that last statement. Looking for peace without God is like trying to swim upstream, it is exhausting, a constant battle. We can’t fight our way to peace. Peace comes from letting go, it’s not something you “do.” Lucado goes on to say, “Experiencing Jesus’ peace often comes at a great price to our idea of security – what we can control. We have to let go of what we know and step out in faith.” This is where faith stops pretending and becomes real.

Today I heard this thought provoking question. When you reach the end of your life will you be able to look back and say that you really lived? Today, are you living or are you simply existing? Are you chasing a peace that always seems just beyond your reach? Maybe today you find yourself someplace you never thought you would be and you aren’t entirely sure how you even got there, but you know there has to be more than simply existing. If that is the case I invite you to seek God, allow yourself to “be led beside the still water.” Let Him have you, really have you. All of you, not just the pieces that you are willing to let go of. Choose what is better, choose peace. Find your rest in God.

Only God gives true peace – a quiet gift He sets within us just when we think we’ve exhausted our search for it. – anonymous

Troubled Waters, Part B

20130804-131825.jpg“So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29)

PETER GOT OUT OF THE BOAT! Yesterday (Troubled Waters, Part A) we looked at how Jesus rescued Peter from drowning after Peter took his eyes off of Jesus during his walk across the water. But how did Peter get there in the first place.  Did he fall overboard?  Was he pushed?  Peter choose to get out of the boat.

“PETER GOT OUT OF THE BOAT!” I can see the chaotic scene in my head, hear the disciples screaming for Peter as the storm rages around their boat.  It is 3am and they are exhausted from fighting against the wind and waves for hours.  Then they look out into the storm and can add terror to their list of ailments as they think they see a ghost, because who, or what, could be walking across the water towards them in the middle of the night in the middle of a storm?!  It is an impossibility!  Then, Peter, realizing that it is Jesus, gathers his robes around him and steps over the edge of the safety of the boat (what little it was providing at the time) and jumps right into the wind stirred waters.  They had to be looking at him like he was crazy!  What was he thinking?!  Was he suicidal?  Not in the least.  Peter was going to where Jesus was, in the middle of the storm.  Peter was following what Jesus had commanded him to do.

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”  (Matthew 14:28-29)

The disciples had no control over the weather that night and they were fearing for their lives.  In the same vain, we don’t get to choose our circumstances.  No matter how hard we may try to manipulate things there will be days when we are huddled in our boats riding out the storm.    When we find ourselves there we have two choices.  We can choose to be like Peter, follow the Lord’s command and “come” which means stepping out of the boat right into the middle of the storm or we can take the safe route and huddle in the boat like the rest of the disciples.  God wants us to choose Him.  He can’t make us get out of the boat, but He is there among the thunder and lightning and driving rain bidding you to “come on in.”  Jesus saved all of them that night, but in the process Peter sought out Jesus and was the only one who got to walk on the water.

Some will say that Peter failed because as he “saw the wind” he began to sink.  But it was Peter’s willingness to risk failure that helped him to grow.  His faith and trust in Jesus and His power and promises grew exponentially that night as Peter had an intimate, personal encounter with Jesus right in the middle of the storm.  Theodore Roosevelt says “It’s not the critic who counts;” (the disciples sitting in the boat saying “Is he nuts?”) “not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.” (“Peter sank, if I would have gone out there I would have kept my eyes on Jesus and run over there to him in half the time.”) “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Ignore your critics.  Making the choice to follow Jesus out where the sea is high and you lose your footing is a hard and scary choice.  It goes against every fiber of your being but it’s where Jesus is and he has commanded us to “Come.”  So I will go, out into the crashing waves, out into the deep to meet Jesus.  If that means trying and failing, at least I have failed while trying.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
-Oceans (Where Feet May Fail,) Hillsong United

 

Troubled Waters, Part A

20130803-121250.jpg
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
-Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong United

Tired. No, not quite right…Exhausted and beaten down. A hurting body and a mind that is something akin to mush. A heavy, burdened heart. This is closer to the truth.  I know that I am not the only one who can relate. It’s like a perfect storm and I am in search of the One who can calm the stormy, surging waters before I sink in their murky depths, but sometimes it is hard to see anything for the crashing waves.  We are helpless to do anything to save ourselves but Jesus is standing amidst the waves holding out his hand to us, ready to rescue us with peace and rest. Call out to Him, He will hear your cry and save you. (Psalms 145:19)

Isaiah 43:2 says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (NIV, emphasis mine) This is not an if but a when. But the promise is that God will be with us, always. Sometimes we lose sight of that as we are beaten by the raging storm around us.  If that is the case you are in good company.  Matthew 14:22-32 tells the story of Peter’s experience with walking upon, and then sinking in, the waves. Vernon McGee writes, “When he [Peter] began to sink, he prayed the shortest prayer in the Bible,” Lord, save me!” If Simon Peter had prayed this prayer like some of us preachers pray, “Lord, Thou who are omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent…” Peter would have been twenty-nine feet under water before he would have gotten to his request.”  Charles Spurgeon once remarked that “the best style of prayer is that which cannot be called anything else but a cry.” This is the prayer of a drowning person in need of help from a savior, and aren’t we all?  Here is the best news of all, Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. (Matthew 14:31)

Today my prayer is that if you are struggling to keep afloat you will take the outstretched hand that offers hope and help. I pray that you would have the strength to cry out “Lord, save me!”  If you aren’t struggling, look around you just may see someone in need of your hand outstretched on Jesus’ behalf. You may be their lifeline to Him.

A Reflection

20130727-140426.jpg
Paul writes, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] (Philippians 2:5 AMP)

Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. This was on a picture in our house growing up and I always thought it was a cute little saying but now realize how deeply scarring it can be when we don’t take it to heart. When we profess with our mouthes our Christianity (our talk) but live in such a way as to denounce Christ (our walk) we reflect a version of Christianity to others that undermines the very reasons that Christ walked this earth. This is destructive behavior in a world that is hungry for something to believe in. These “Christians” are driving a wedge between the world and a loving, merciful God.

Mother Teresa shares this. When our sisters were in Ceylon, a minister of state once told me something very surprising. He said, “You know, Mother, I love Christ but I hate Christians.” So I asked him how that could be. He answered, “Because, Christians do not give us Christ; they do not live their Christian lives to the fullest.” Gandhi said something very similar. “If Christians were to live their Christian lives to the fullest, there would not be one Hindu left in India.”

The fullness of our heart comes out in our actions. This isn’t about being pious and condemning. This isnt about religion and rules. This is about opening our eyes to see as Jesus did and then opening our hearts in love. Jesus says, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:40 NLT)

Mother Theresa goes on to say “None of us has the right to condemn anyone. Even when we see people doing bad and we don’t know why they do it. Jesus invites us not to pass judgement. Maybe we are the ones who have helped make them what they are.”

My heart is convicted by this thought. I am challenged not be a stumbling block for others, to live in a consistently loving manner, especially when I don’t feel like it. That is when Christ’s love has the opportunity to shine through.

Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
~Casting Crowns, Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Heaven stands

imageI have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

I do have unanswered prayers and I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed that God would take the pain, physical and mental away. But what a comfort to know that heaven, God and a host of angels, are standing for us, behind us, beside us, as our world is shaking. And even more, to know that when it does shake and our heart is broken in the process God never let’s us go.

George MacDonald says “Trusting even when it appears you have been forsaken; praying when it seems you words are simply entering a vast expanse where no one hears and no voice answers; believing that God’s love is complete and that He is aware of your circumstances, even when your world seems to grind on as if setting its own direction and not caring for life or moving one inch in response to your petitions; desiring only what God’s hands have planned for you; waiting patiently while seemingly starving to death, with your only fear being that your faith might fail – “this is the victory that has overcome the world“; this is genuine faith indeed.”

Have you been there, feeling forsaken and unheard? Are you in the place where you faith is thin and if it fails, you know with certainty that you will crumble under the weight of all that you carry? I understand, I have been there. As I faced a future with Takayasu’s Arteritus I was afraid, and I prayed over and over that God would rescue me and He did. Maybe not in the way that I thought He would or should but He has given me more strength, more sanity, more of Him, than I ever had before I was sick and I wouldn’t trade any of that for the busy that I had before. I have come to a place where unanswered prayers begin to take on a different meaning, a place where I can begin to see the good in Romans 8:28. (Read When The Last Thing You Need…)

This is where heaven stands…

Still Moments

20130716-071131.jpgMoses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13, 14 NIV)
Moses is telling the Israelites as they faced the Red Sea on one side and the advancing Egyptian army on the other side, do not be afraid, stand firm, don’t give up, just get out of the way and watch God work. I love that! Do you feel caught between an army and the sea today? Quiet your battling mind, hand over the struggle to God, no matter how big or how small, believe He will fight for you, and then get out of the way and watch Him work!