Archives For Distractions

river

There are 365 days in a year. I’ve never tried, but I would be willing to bet, if I placed the word happy on each day of a calendar when I finished the day happy, there would be less happy days than not. If it were one big wall calendar, you could back away from it to get the whole view, and it would look like a hopeless sight. However, that’s not the way I would see it as a Christ follower.

As a Christ follower my goal is not happiness. My inheritance is joy. Joy is not even a goal. Joy is a gift. I don’t have to fight for it. I don’t have to earn it. The Spirit of God living on the inside of me gives Joy. Now, back up from the same calendar and take another look and you would see the word joy on every day.

Happiness is an emotion. I enjoy experiencing happiness, but it’s not life giving. Joy, on the other hand, is a bi-product of the Holy Spirit. Joy arrives each day on the wings of mercy and walks with me through the ups and down of everyday life. When I walk with joy, happiness often merges along side of me for a while, and it’s nice, but when happiness leaves I don’t grieve because joy is always there.

Joy can’t leave because it’s a gift of God. Weeping might endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  If happiness is your goal there are many things you can do that brings it to you temporary. However, once that experience is over, happiness runs off and begs for you to wear yourself out chasing it again.

You never have to chase joy. Joy is part of the DNA that was given to you when the Spirit of God came to live inside of you. You are a temple of God, and His temple is a temple full of Joy. At times, you might sing a song of unhappiness, but underneath the unhappiness is a river of Joy that can’t be explained or shut off. It just is! Enjoy your joy and you are enjoying God Himself.

Galatians 5:22-23

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Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

storm

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Of course, He cares. But even better than that, He knows!

Jesus knew the storm was  coming when He commanded the disciples to cross over to the other side. He even knew the storm was upon them during His nap.

It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.

You know you’re in a storm when it’s all you can think about. It’s on your mind so heavy you toss and turn on your bed at night.

However, I want you to know that Jesus can be calmly trusted in the middle of trouble.

He knew they were destined for the other side, and He knows how to write your story also.

He knew they would arrive, and He knew they would arrive different men than when they launched out from the other side.

The kind of differences only a storm can bring.

It is not that Jesus is not around; He is there all the time.

You may not understand His timing or the way He chooses to answer but please understand Jesus is sovereign over all forces and that’s enough.

Jesus can calm the inward and outward storms of your life. He will get you to the other side.

Psalm 89:8-9 (NIV) 8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

emptiness_sings_scan

I’ve have found that the worst thing to do with emptiness is to try and run from it. If you run from emptiness, you will miss the song.

Emptiness that is not avoided, causes you to ask questions you would otherwise never ask. Emptiness is not the valley of death, but rather, the valley of teaching and even a valley of Joy.

I once read, “Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness,  we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.”

In my emptiness,  I’ve established I’m often to quick to look for human help before finding joy and peace with God first. When I was younger in my faith I often found myself asking for help from anyone who would listen, and then I would pray and ask God to bless what I had just asked for.

Older and more mature now, I now seek the joy in emptiness and then asking is nothing more than breathing out from a place of assurance- no matter the answer to come. When you stop running from emptiness you are one step closer to hearing a creative song.

Emptiness was the starting place of God in Genesis, and it’s still His creative starting place in your life now. Give your emptiness to God and watch as He speaks, “Let there be!” Emptiness is the place God begins to complete you. Emptiness is a place God begins to sing through you. This is how emptiness sings!

Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

dry-well

A dry well never worries God; a dry well only worries us. Looking into the well of life and finding it dry is a scary scenario; especially if the well has been flowing unhindered for quite awhile.  It’s in times of abundant flow we say things like, “God is good; God is faithful, and God is the provider!” However, when the well starts to become dry, there is a tendency to allow our faith to become dry along with it.

I’m convinced that one of the secrets to trusting God is being faithful with dryness the same way we are faithful with abundance. God requires faithfulness from us no matter the amount given or allowed into our lives. Adversity is the most amazing place  to see God demonstrate His faithfulness. He will always give you what you need to survive.

He is the God that will sustain you for His glory. Circumstances have no disturbance on God who is the master over all circumstances. Don’t panic and look for shortcuts when your well is running dry.  Look instead to the gift of faith God is trying to birth into your life to grow you into a disciple for His glory. Don’t allow the call of panic to grip your soul causing you to move into part-time loyalty to God.

Charles Swindoll once said, “From the tiny birds of the air and from the fragile lilies of the field, we learn the same truth…God takes care of His own…. At just the right moment, He steps in and proves Himself as our faithful heavenly Father.”

Don’t look at the dry well! Look to God who is the well that never runs dry. I want you to understand today that when you wholly yield to God, you are yielding to the answer for dryness. We are not called to prove the faithfulness of God; we are only God to demonstrate our own faithfulness in knowing that His inevitable supply will come.

Psalm 36:5 (NKJV)Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

second-thoughts

The primary key to operating an automobile is being in control of the vehicle and not vice versa. Can you imagine letting go of the wheel and letting the car take you where it wants to go? If the car is aligned correctly, you might make it a few hundred feet before running off the road and crashing. However,  the crash would surely happen unless you regained control by taking hold of the wheel again.

Thoughts have the same potential. You can control them and have a great adventure of faith or you can let go of the “Wheel,” and let them take you where they want to go. You might cruise unharmed for a few hundred feet, but sooner of later you are going to crash unless you regain control of your thoughts for God’s purpose.

Your thoughts can be a temple of worship for God, or your thoughts can be an idol of destruction that leads you astray and off course. The choice is your choice to make. Each of us needs to take control of our thoughts, giving them over to God along with everything else in our lives.

We are commanded in scripture to bring every thought into obedience to Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:10) Every thought means every thought. We are called to bring the good, bad and the ugly thoughts to the feet of Jesus and filter them there.

Believe it or not, you have exceptional control over what you do with your thoughts. Thoughts coming into your mind are often fast and furious, but they are never non-controllable. When a thought comes to you, a choice has to be made and can be made.

I challenge you today. Take inventory of your thought life today. It will tell you much about yourself. Ask God to make you more awake to what’s on your mind. Ask God to help move you in Godly directions with your thought life.  I promise you that if you fill your mind with good thoughts, the bad will soon dilute and lose power of influence in your life.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Gone Fishin’

May 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Thanks for dropping by my blog where I post 3 to 5 times a week. Please enjoy looking through the archives. I’ve gone Fishin’

Look for a new post on June 3rd, 2013. I’m taking some time with some good friends and hope to take friendships deeper and enjoy God’s creation at the same time. Thank you for your love, and thanks also for sharing with others the writings of my heart.

Peace,

Pastor Steve

 

 

pour

Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma. You need God to meet a need in your life or ministry, so you pray He shows up, and yet on the other hand God is everywhere, so it’s impossible for Him to be absent. In other words, praying He shows up is almost redundant, yet we ask anyway because the Bible encourages us to ask. The Lord’s Prayer being just one example of many in scripture.

I think a better way to look at asking God to show up is to ask God to give us eyes to see where He is at work in the situation and pursue it. Pursuing God is the more proactive form of asking Him for help. When you know God is always present and at work, then it’s just a matter of pursuing. Asking is just the opening of your heart to see with your eyes of faith where He is already active.

Even when the Bible speaks of God at rest, it’s better stated that God is in control. When God is at rest in the Bible that doesn’t mean He is kicked back with His feet up doing nothing. That’s more of our definition of rest then God’s definition of rest. Rest for God is control. He is sovereign and in control, and there is nothing passive about either.

God’s invitation to ask of Him is a real command, but it must never be forgotten that it is for our benefit and not His.  Prayer is mostly about bringing ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.

I’m not sure what you need God to show up for right now, but there is one thing that I am sure of, and it’s this- Grace is accessible to you right now, and so there’s no reason to struggle and fight for an answer. He is the answer for right now because He is the ‘right now’ God working at all times. Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma, but that is half the joy of pursuing Him.

The power of God’s grace is working in your life. And whatever amount you need, is being poured into your cup right now.  So, belly up to the grace of God and say, “Pour me another.”

Choose Image_0

I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.