Archives For Adversity

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Matthew 14:28 (ESV)
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Long before you and I were born, Peter stood on the edge of a fishing boat in the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a storm. He had a decision to make, one of the greatest decision of his life. Would he step out of the boat at the command of Jesus or stay in the boat and wait?

In 1444, Conrad Witz painted this scene found in Matthew 14. The question arises, what is so unique about Witz’s Fifteenth-century painting? It is reported, “he is credited with creating one of the only true “great paintings” of this scene.

But why?

It’s a very simple and remarkable answer! Peter was called the “rock” of the church. No painter would ever show the failure of such a great leader of the early church. Peter sank like a rock; therefore, the brush strokes of great painters remained undirected to capture this scene until Conrad dared to show warts and all.

Like all people who find themselves on an edge – a decision has to be made. Do you step out of the boat or wait? You see, no one wants to be painted a failure. It could go without saying- we certainly don’t want our failures showing up on a great painting for the entire world to see. But when you are answering the call of God and fail, is it failure? I would contend that the answer is no. Fear caused Peter to sink and yes, in a classic definition, we call it a failure.

But never forget!

When Jesus calls us to do something, He will not ultimately let us fail. Jack Canfield once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jesus was on the other side of Peter’s fear and Jesus is on the other side of your fear also.

The Veil Calls

June 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

maya[pp]I struggle not so much with the chaos of the world as I do with how to reshape the world. My life must count beyond this life. I know it matters. I know there is an eternal world just thinly veiled beyond my walk. The veil solicits me to poke holes in it so the healing will leak in.

Matthew 27:51 (NKJV)
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

 

Truly Live

April 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

waiting

I breathe, yet my soul is still heavy. I laugh although my soul is unrested. I battle, but the fight is never without only within. I thirst for significance discerning it’s not the goal of life. I’m just like you…waiting on the shore hesitant for my ego to die that I might truly live.

Whatever Happens Today

December 2, 2013 — Leave a comment

giving

Whatever happens today happens with God having full knowledge. The comfort of God is found in knowing you are not alone. Instant deliverance is possible, but sometimes God has to walk you through something to get through to you. Never forget that both are miracles and show the ever-presence of God’s love and care for you and your entire life. God can bless us with gain and victory, but we must never forget that God is also capable of blessing us with loss also. His steady love is found in His promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Count on it.

grace

2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What would make a man cry out those kinds of words? There is only one answer, one word. Grace!

Ultimately for the Christ follower, life is only livable by grace.

Grace alone touches what is beyond your control.

Grace transcends any questions we may have.

Why can’t I find happiness? Why am I trapped in depression? Why do I have no close friends? Why does everything in my life seem to fall apart?

Most often answers to your hard questions are not found in asking more questions but rather by surrendering to His grace by saying, “Nevertheless.”

God’s grace grows perfect in your weakness

The Quiet Canvas

October 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Image Credit Madison Wright

fairyjar1The simple act of being quiet before the Lord is a discipline that should be visited often. Quietness is a blank canvas before the Lord. In quietness, God makes faint undertones of color building to a masterpiece for His glory. He is the artist; you are the canvas.

My daughter Madison is an artist. She has work hanging all over her room. Each work tells a story-a story that was in her heart at the time. I’ve had the honor of seeing most of her work come to life over the days; weeks and months she would work on them.

Sometimes, I didn’t have a clue what the painting was until almost the very end. I would have to wait, and then once she put the finally brush strokes to the canvas the work would come alive and completely reveal itself. At other times, I could tell from the beginning what the work was and so in that case, the joy would come in watching her layer the colors making them burst off the canvas.

Quietness is where God works. Let Him paint. Let Him layer. Let Him choose the colors. Your part is to choose quietness. He waits for you. He has a grand idea for using you.

Quietness.

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glass

Samuel Hamilton in East of Eden once wrote, “Two stories have haunted us and followed us from our beginning. . . . We carry them along with us like invisible tails—the story of original sin and the story of Cain and Abel. And I don’t understand either of them. I don’t understand them at all, but I feel them.

Original sin is the story of the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve disobey God and death had a birthday. The story of Cain and Abel is the story of violence finding its first platform of death and destruction.

Brian Zanhd in his book, Beauty Will Save The World, teaches that the picture of individuals going wrong is seen in the story of Adam and Eve and the picture of civilization going wrong is seen in the story of Cain and Abel.

Separation from God and violence was never God’s plan for us as individuals or for civilization. We were created to reflect the image of God. We were designed to take care of each other. Violence is not the way of the kingdom of God.

God’s rule and reign in the here and now is not through violence and power. His rule and His reign are through the work of the Holy Spirit working not only in us, but through us toward others by the power of love.

Love is the greatest power ever known to man. Love was perfectly demonstrated on the cross. When violence taunted Jesus to fight back, He fought back with love and not violence. He took all the sins of the world and its violence upon himself and said, “It is finished!” He defeated it with love. So must we!

We can only love like God when we move toward God in submission. We must not be violent to get our way. The Gospel was never gifted to us to force upon the sinner. It was gifted to us to love the sinner to the foot of the cross. Violence will always and only be seen as corrupt in God’s sight. (See Genesis 6:11-13)

The Church is called to be God’s new humanity in the world. We are not called to call down fire like James and John wanted to do when Jesus was rejected. They asked to call fire down, and Jesus warned them that they knew not what spirit they were being lead by.

When we live God’s peace to the world, we show forth His lordship. The world system cannot bring peace. Only God can do that, and He did it by the cross. When we follow the politics of forgiveness and redemption, we find that we are following Jesus.

When you and I answer the call to deny self and take up the cross and follow Christ, we are baptized to the imperative call to love our enemies. Christ sending His sheep out among wolves is about love and never about retaliation. I’ve heard it said many ways and it is true…the beauty of love and kindness is most strikingly seen in the darkest of places.

We are called to be light. We are called to walk in His love. Both are done in the darkness, and both cast darkness out. Now walk bold today my friend. Walk in love. You will find you are walking in the footsteps of Christ Himself.

NOTHING

August 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Nothing! Nothing is the greatest gift God can bless you with.  The gift of nothing is yours to discover…Think on it.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing truly is a gift of God.

Only God

July 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

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sunset

You Lord give longing for the eternal. Only you can satisfy. Forgive me for looking anywhere else for completeness and joy. Soul-satisfaction can only be found in you-the creator of all things.

You walk with me moment by moment. There is never an instant you are not near. Your endless road of Grace amazes me continually. Every hunger of my life leads to you for sustenance.  My soul and heart is restless without you.

I hold fast to your promise spoken long ago,  “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” You are all-sufficient. My soul smiles and I campaign forward.

Peter_Paul_Rubens_The_Three_Crosses

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Don’t mute Jesus. Excel in making Him known through loving the unlovable. Jesus never chose sides. He loved the world. He hung on the middle cross loving both the one on the left and the one on the right. He chose them both, but only one chose Him that day. He chooses everyone that everyone might have the chance to repent and turn to Him in surrender. 2 Peter 3:9b teaches that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The only division Christ came to bring was to a division that points all of humanity to a decision for Him or against Him. He did so because choosing Him or rejecting Him is the only eternal choice that really matters in this age, or the age to come. You must point humanity to the middle cross every day of your life through your actions and your words. People in our world are hungry to belong. They are hungry and thirsty to be heard, valued and love unconditionally.

Pointing humanity to the left or to the right will never satisfy the hole in their lives. Pointing them to the middle cross is the only answer. In John 6 Jesus speaking to the crowd said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus is still offering that call to the world today. He doesn’t offer it through himself (his physical presence) anymore because He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting to return. However, he still offers it through us, His children by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Christ followers,  you and I have the Spirit of God living on the inside of us seeking to serve and rescue the world. The rescuing of the world doesn’t happen by following the media, or by choosing the left or right. Rescuing happens by choosing to obey the command of love, and pointing the world to the middle cross where Jesus stretched out His arms wide to embrace everyone who would hear.

Will you obey and follow His leading, or will you be a quencher of the Spirit? Will you mute Jesus today by choosing the left or the right or will you live for Him and promote Him today by choosing the middle? The middle cross is still the only answer for the world because Jesus used it to defeat evil forever. Jesus turned an ugly cross of Rome into a vision of beauty that rescues the world.  His crucifixion was the greatest act of love ever accomplished for humanity, and it’s still the only path that leads us home.