Heading the Right Direction

    There is a way that seems right to a man,
        but its end is the way to death.
(Proverbs 14:12 ESV)

 

This is my idea of a good road.  I know it looks quiet and boring.  For myself, I find that those quiet and boring roads offer much, for me,  in terms of prayer and listening to God.

    “Be still, and know that I am God.
        I will be exalted among the nations,
        I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

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This kind of highway scares me.  It looks noisy, stressful and very frightening. 

If we were to compare our relationship with Jesus against the photos…would it look like the country road or would it look like the highway? 

I don’t know about you folks but my journey is reflected in both of those photos.  There are times when it is calm and there are times when it is very chaotic.

I suppose I could wind this up with a plug for having a consistent daily quiet time or some other thing.  I don’t think that would accomplish anything except make our frustration levels go a little bit higher.  I am finding, in my journey, that everyone has an opinion about how a walk with Jesus should look; but in reality, only a very small number of those people actually walk out what they teach.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
    Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

Making that reality of our relationship with Jesus visible is the purpose, or the destination, of our faith journey. How that happens, and how it looks, is going to be different for each person.  The challenge in this process is trying to find that path and then staying on it heading in the right direction until you reach the end of the journey.

My Prayer is, as you encounter God in your journey, that you will be transformed by His Spirit and become more like Jesus and find His joy as you make this trip.

Devotional, Discipleship, Getting Real, Learning , , ,

Things I am Grateful for

Morning Coffee

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 118:1 ESV)

I pray that you feel His love today as you encounter Christ today…
Gratitude, Learning ,

Looking at the “Gray”-ness of Life

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1 NAS95)

There are always things that happen in our culture that end up reminding me of lessons my Dad taught me.

If I could summarize the biggest thing that he taught me it would be this…

As a Christian, our job is not to become like the culture in order to change the culture…God calls us to live a transformed life so that the culture is changed by the way we live out our lives.

To be honest, I haven’t always lived this out.  Mind you, I believe that truth is absolutely black and white just like a piano keyboard.

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But I would always be the first to admit that there is a subtle attractiveness that lies in those “gray” areas that sit between the black and white keys.  It is alluring..mysterious.  Those areas call out to be explored.

But there is a price to pay when you choose to live in the “gray” areas of life.  It is not a simple price either.  I should know.  I’ve been there.  I was so eager to “enjoy” the immediate gratification that is found in those zones that I failed to pay attention to the greater cost.  I stepped into the gray area and it was a blast…at first.  But the longer I stayed there the harder and harder it became to leave. 

What started out as a “manageable” attraction quickly spiraled into a constantly growing obsession that began to control every aspect of my life.  I thought by bringing Christ with me into the midst of my life with my obsession that everything would be OK.  It took me a bit before I realized that Christ and the obsession could not live together.  Only one could be in control and the obsession fought hard for that position and won out for several years.

I was expecting Christ to “make everything OK” without giving Him control of every aspect of my life.  I had to be willing to give up the controls and look at my obsession through His eyes and see it for what it really was…sin. 

In the end…I find that there is very little attractiveness in living in the “gray” areas of life.  In fact those places smell really bad and, in the end, they are not as appealing as they first appeared on the surface. 

What God has to offer goes way beyond surface appearances.  He wants us to hand over these stinky obsessions so that He can transform them with His grace.

The key is that God can only change things when we let Him do the changing in us and through us.

I hope you find Him and His peace at the crossroads…

Devotional, Discipleship, Gray, Learning , , ,

Nothing to Prove

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. (Proverbs 11:12 NAS95)

(Photo Credit) God has been dealing with me about the concept of grace. I am not talking about some candy coated Bible study that is meant to make you feel good, leave you with some warm fuzziness and then you move on to the next item on your task list.

I am talking about the kind of work that leaves you breathless, agitated and you cannot sleep because God is taking you to a new place that is extremely uncomfortable.  It’s upsetting and it feels horrible in some respects…but I am finding that God does a work in us when we are in those seriously uncomfortable moments.

Over the past few days,  I have experienced  some really upsetting things.  My first reaction has always been to react and say something (usually without thinking it through) and then be REALLY angry and upset.  Then I usually get a case of “vengeance-itis” and think I have to write and say something to correct or alleviate the situation and assist God in correcting the “situation.”

In the end not much is accomplished and I end up feeling more frustrated than I was before…and I look like a big fool.

Ultimately nothing will have changed……and sin will have developed  greater grip on me.  For me, the issue isn’t anger or even the need to right a perceived theological wrong and validate myself or set someone else straight…the issue is…..my sin.

My sin…..that’s right…you heard me….I said that the issue was my sin.

I am….the worst sinner I know.

The reason why?

Because I am most familiar with my own sins….notice I didn’t say your sins…I said my sins.

So when I am upset by the trivial, heretical nonsense that some people write in the name of God and develop the urge to speak out and try and assist God in correcting the “problem”, God brings me back down to earth and shows me I have plenty to do and learn as a husband, a father and a follower of Christ who is leading his own family and dealing with all of the daily challenges that this presents.

In the end, today, I had the overwhelming urge to argue for the truth, not because God was leading me, but because my pride told me that I had to say something about something that really didn’t have anything to do with me. 

I am finding that the truth was already defended more than  2000 years ago when a simple carpenter paid the ultimate price for my sin. His actions point that God’s way is much better than our own.

so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:22 NAS95)

There is nothing else left to prove…and I will leave the debating to those who are better equipped to do so.

Besides, I want my children to have a heritage that is based in a confidence in God and what he has accomplished rather than living with a perpetual chip on their shoulders.  As my wife has reminded me before…all arguing ever does is raise my blood pressure and give me a stomach ache.

In the end, silence can say more than a million sermons ever could…

In the end, if all my life reflects is a bunch of meaningless words and makes nothing of Jesus..

Then

I

have failed.

In the end, silence can say more than a million sermons ever could…and I pray that in the silence you will hear the voice of Jesus as you encounter Him at the crossroads of Grace and that you will be changed as a result.

Devotional, Discipleship, Getting Real, Learning , , ,

A Good Foundation

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I have had much experience talking about recovery.  I have experienced, and continue to experience, recovery and have walked out 20 years of sobriety.  It never ceases to amaze me though how people react when I share with them what has helped me the most in this journey.

They get an enlightened look on their face and they assume that I am going to talk about a 12 step program or some variation of that. It ends up becoming quite funny when I start sharing my journey and they end up getting angry at me when they see where my journey has taken me…and ultimately what got me, and keeps me, on track.

I have come to realize, in my journey, that the disease model of addiction recovery has a major flaw in it when you try and combine Christianity with it.  It ends up putting you in a pattern of defeat and codependency.  You are informed that as an addict that you have a disease that you can never conquer and that you must learn to live with your disease and trust Christ along with going to extra meetings to help you get through this struggle. Ultimately you replace one thing for another and achieve nothing in the process.

It finally hit me one day sitting at my desk trying to figure a game plan to get through my challenges when this verse came to mind…

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
(Proverbs 10:17 ESV)

which then led me to this verse…

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

then the words to this song floated through my mind…

Here are the lyrics…

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness hides his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace,
Through every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

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Right then, it hit me, to continue pursuing a twelve step model of recovery would not help me achieve victory.  In order to achieve victory I had to identify what the problem was…then this verse popped into my mind…

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
(2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV)

“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”, Those are very powerful words.  It hit me … I had been embracing the old.  True repentance does not call us to keep looking back and reminding ourselves about how bad we were.  True repentance calls us to set our eyes on Jesus and not look back.  When we live our lives looking backwards we miss things and run into walls.

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Remembering where we came from is good…but to keep looking back and dwelling at that place is to commit the same sin that Lot’s wife did…while we may not turn into a pillar of salt we might get frozen and be stuck in that sin.

True victory is achieved is when we trust Christ alone for our victory over sin.  To say that I have to trust Christ plus a program is to commit idolatry.  Victory is only found when we trust Christ and let him lead us in our lives and not let other things get in the way with our relationship with Jesus.

It all starts with Jesus.

Today as you encounter Christ at the cross roads of His Grace may you find Him, being Christ to be sufficient to get you through this day.

Devotional, Discipleship, Getting Real, Learning , , ,

It’s the Weekend…

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(Thanks to Dr. Rick Walston for the Photo)

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
(Philemon 1:4-6 ESV)

Today I woke up in a dancing mood.  That doesn’t happen very often with me…but today I danced…

  • because my wife is on the mend.
  • because the Joy of the Lord is my strength!
  • because God is so good that he has blessed me with an awesome wife and family!

I hope you will get your dance on and praise God for His goodness to you as you meet Him at the cross roads of grace. Baruch Adonai! Blessed is the Lord!

Devotional, Gratitude, Video , ,

With Me?

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I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

(In The Garden, Words: Charles Austin Miles (1912)

I can still remember the first time I sang this hymn as a solo.  The theology of the hymn may not be perfect but these lyrics pack a mighty punch…God wants to walk… with me!

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

Out of His love and great kindness, God chose to redeem me from the pits of self destruction and sin. He chose to redeem me.

Why?

Why would he want to do that?

Because He loves me….

And can it be that I should gain 
	an interest in the Savior's blood! 
	Died he for me? who caused his pain! 
	For me? who him to death pursued? 
	Amazing love! How can it be 
	that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 
	Amazing love! How can it be 
	that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 
No condemnation now I dread; 
	Jesus, and all in him, is mine; 
	alive in him, my living Head, 
	and clothed in righteousness divine, 
	bold I approach th' eternal throne, 
	and claim the crown, through Christ my own. 
	Bold I approach th' eternal throne, 
	and claim the crown, through Christ my own. (Credit) 

He wants to walk with me…

and when I am ready He will help me deal with my sin issue…with me right there.

He won’t take away the pain of my sin but he will help me come to terms with it so that I can be free…

For myself God makes this truth very real in the way Mary loves me, even when I am in the midst of a storm.  She gently reminds me that I am not alone in this storm…she is here

…with me…not going anywhere…and Jesus reminds me of the same.

So what does a “with me” kind of love change?

It changes…everything!

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