"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Drowning Man




No too long ago I read a blog post that compared sermon prep to drowning; suggesting that only the breath of God can bring life to lungs crushed by the weight of water (responsibility). When I read that post, I identified with the image of a frantic man longing for rescue from his own words, drowning in his own opinionated theology, desperate to breathe in the Father’s heart in order to speak life into others.

Now I realize that this sensation is consuming my journey with Christ and not just confined to the “safe” areas of sermon prep. I’m gasping for air, I feel raw, exposed, washed up on the shore of service… thankful for missing the rocks of doubt and envy that threaten every heart devoted to the Master.

This raw emotion is separated from uncertainty; I don’t fear the exposure and the peel back of my heart but I can’t say this is a pleasant way to inhale my next breath. There is great pain involved in holding one’s breath until you break the surface of liberty. The desire to live freely burns and consumes the oxygen of my soul, igniting the cleansing process that lifts me towards the surface.

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

What I cough up on the shore of new life is the regrets and sorrows of an old life, anchors that weighed me down, holding my head under water and drowning me with shame. His life expands my lungs, filling them with the pure oxygen of His love and leaves me gasping for more.

In this way, being a drowning man is good. I will gladly go under His waves of mercy, His current of grace and swim with all my strength towards the shores of His heart. His breath… gives life.

“For as long as life is in me, And the breath of God is in my nostrils, My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit.” Job 27:3-4

Words, thoughts, opinions, theology…me... all covered by the crashing waves of who He is. 

What a way to go

Blessings,
Jay

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Light Response




49 dead, over 50 seriously wounded… the lives of friends and family permanently altered forever.

I believe we (the Christian community) needs a pause, a moment to reflect before we post (or repost), rant or rave, change a profile picture or otherwise comment in the Wild West of social media.  Words escape our lips, our pens; our keyboards with such force that we must remember that those words can bring life or add to the pain people are already suffering from.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21

Can we quiet our opinions for a season and pray before acting, speaking, posting, and commenting? Let’s dare to ask God to check our heart and see if it lines up with His.
The hardship and suffering of others should move us to a gentle response, one that beats in rhythm with the Father’s heart.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

The tragedy in Orlando is a brutal reminder of how easy it is for evil to inflict devastation and suffering. Day after day, in one part of the world or another, it violently takes a defiant pose, shakes its fist at us and dares us to counter its cruelty.

Although I’m not connected by family or friends to this awful heartbreak, I am connected because God cares for the people involved. My connection to His heart compels me to act like Him. So, how do I, (a devoted Christ follower) effectively respond to such dark, hate filled and evil times?

God’s response to darkness is to send light, a response so radically different than the world’s response. He didn’t send a political solution, new policy or legislation to dispel the darkness.

He sent His son…the light of the world.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2

The world Jesus entered was brutally dark and deadly. Humanity was under a death sentence of sin and it needed a Messiah…it needed the light.

It still does.

I believe light brings hope, because it exposes life; it brings life into clarity and focus.

We could use some hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” - Martin Luther King JR

My response to tragedy must contain hope. My comments, my speech, my actions, my opinion must be saturated with the hope that sheds light on truth. Hope consumes the intent of evil and in its place brings peace and the courage to fight on. Solidifying my hold on my rights will not stop the flow of violence nor will the desire for my voice to be heard above the voice of others. My vote will not change this evil, nor will ranting and raving across party lines. Only His light, only His love and forgiveness can work that miracle.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

If I lose hope, if I refuse to shine the light of the Gospel, if I lack the will to do good… then I give away my heart to lesser things. I must find a way to do good in this world, the idol of my own opinion must be brought down from the high places of ego and I must surrender it to my King.

How do I respond then?

I love like the Messiah…bringing His light into a dark world. I do the good the Master sends me to do. I love with such a ferocious passion the evil of this world gives way to its light. I live the Good News and overcome the evil with the goodness of God.

“Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21

Be angry yes, but don’t let anger distort your vision and your heart. Get angry at evil, at injustice and the cruelty of sin. Speak up but cover every word with the love of Christ. This is the way to counter evil, bringing hope and love into the fight. His love doesn’t overlook or excuse behavior, it works to change hearts… starting with ours first.

Dear Children, let us not love with word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fear of Falling



I’m restless today…

I tend to feel that way, the sensation of someone relentlessly tugging at my sleeve, trying to get my attention, attempting to pull me in different direction. Sometimes it wearies me with its persistent cry for my focus, for my deep introspection to discover the cause behind such unrest in my spirit. When I commit to explore the crevices of my fidgety spirit, I’m often surprised by the mystery revealed.

I’m restless because I’m not satisfied.

I want more from life and from my relationship with God. I want a stronger marriage and a greater connection with my children. The desire to make a meaningful impact on this world drives me daily and to settle for anything less seems pointless. This tug on my sleeve is a welcomed one… but there is one that is not.

I’m restless because I’m afraid.

Afraid of loss,
Afraid of failure,
Afraid of rejection,
Afraid of the unknown.

The fear of falling (Basiphobia) is a strong phobia and can cripple, immobilize and rob freedom from the strongest person. For our heart, in a spiritual sense, it’s just as dangerous. Loss, failure, rejection, the unknown threaten our spirit daily, trying to get us to believe a lie.

These restless tugs are connected; they meet at the crossroad of faith and fear. Just when I’m disturbed enough to move out/step out in faith, the fear of falling raises its ugly head and lying tongue.

The lie of falling

The fear of falling lies to me, tugs on my sleeve, fabricates a story of doubt and guilt. A story meant to immobilize my heart and stop me in my tracks… afraid to move out in faith. This enemy wants my heart to believe that I’m doomed to fall and that my falls are always fatal and final.

The truth of falling

“Though he fall, he shall not be cast down; for Jehovah upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:24

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. Jude 1:24

So, I’m checking out that tug I feel on the sleeve of my heart. I don’t want to settle for less than all that God has for me, nor do I want the fear of falling compromise my faithfulness to the call on my life. For that I need more of Him.

“All our falls are useful if they strip us of a disastrous confidence in ourselves, while they do not take away a humble and saving trust in God.” - Francois Fenelon


How about you… are you afraid of “falling” in something Father God has asked you to do? How can I pray for you?