About Me

What should I say? I hope by reading my blog you come to learn who I am. I always want Christ first in my life. I want to consistently show the fruit of the spirit in my life. I want others to be blessed by what I go through and learn from it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Faith and Fruit

"Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong" 1 Corinthians 16:13

The Bible study I am attending just started studying the book of James; I really love that book. James actually has one of my favorite verses in it...it's James 2:18 "But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." I know a lot of people will point to James and try to talk about hot it doesn't fit into what a lot of the rest of the New Testament says, I couldn't disagree more. I think James actually follows along quite nicely. James is not a letter about works being the vehicle of salvation, I see it as obviously telling us what out faith should look like in our life. It's not saying "do this and you'll get into Heaven" it's more saying "Excellent, you have faith? It should look like this."

Our faith is an intensely personal thing, but it shouldn't stop at our skin, it should show in how we act toward others, in how we speak, and what we do when nobody is watching. By the way, one thing I've learned is that unless we're alone someone is watching you to see how you act in any given situation, and when we are alone, God is still there.

While faith starts in our heart and mind, it should flow out into every aspect of our life. That won't happen overnight, but it should be happening. I hope it is happening more in my life than it used to, and I hope in the future, it will even more so. My new prayer is that every day, I will begin to show more and more of the fruit of the Spirit, and that when I need to work on one, God will make it clear that I need work, and He'll show me what I need to do.

Why do we need a book like James? Our nature is sinful, that means we don't naturally know how to act as a citizen of Heaven. I think 2 Timothy Chapter 2 backs James up, look at verse 15: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

I don't always react well to frustrating situations, I often become angry and lash out at the person I'm dealing with. Years ago, I realized this, now if this comes up, I just shut my mouth, is this perfect? Nope, but it's better than vomiting my anger and my shortcomings all over someone else. Someday, I'll learn how to overcome this, but until then, I'll just deal with it the best way I know how.

Today as I was writing, I was listening to some hymns again, and again it was Jadon Lavik's album "Roots Run Deep" and the song was "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee;
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Today I pray that we will al learn how to better show Christ's love to everyone around us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not My Fight

"I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one." I John 14b

A couple of weeks ago I was able to go back out with Coastlands for the week at a school in Massachusetts, it was a great week, and I was greatly blessed to be there. On Friday, I shared with the students a story out of the book of 2 Chronicles 20; a story of a time when three different groups of people were coming to attack the kingdom of Judah. When Jehoshaphat gathered everyone together to pray the answer came back to him through Jahaziel son of Zechariah, that the fight was not theirs to fight, here's what he said..."You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you." (2 Chronicles 20:17) So instead of preparing to fight, they went out to sing! As they went out the next day, Jehoshaphat set men to sing "Give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever."

I love this story, it's a continual reminder for me that this fight we face is not mine, and it's not yours, but it's God's and He is way better at fighting it that you or I will ever be. I think too often we get to thinking that this fight is ours, that we need to do the work, that if only we were better God would love us more. That couldn't me further from the truth, God is not looking for perfect people, God is looking for people who are broken, who realize that they need God and only He can make them whole. I fail, I'll be the first to admit it, I'm not perfect, God still loves me.

I wanted to write a bit of a happier entry today, the last couple of days have been pretty heavy. I can't think of a better entry than to talk about the gospel, which literally means good news, and the good news is this..."For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) Christ died for our sins(!) and then rose again three days later to show His power over death! I can't think of better news than that. Christ wants you to give your heart to Him. Do it, do it today, if you've already done it, seek out people who haven't and tell them about the good news you've already heard.

I want to end this entry with the lyrics for another hymn I was listening to, while I was writing this, it's called "I Need Thee Every Hour" and the version I was listening to is by Jars of Clay.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh

I need thee, oh, I need thee, every hour I need Thee
I need thee, I need thee, I need Thee every hour

I need Thee every hour in joy or pain
Come quickly and abide or life is in vain
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee, every hour I need Thee
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee
Oh I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee

God bless you today and always.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Surrender All

"However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 1 Peter 4:16

Yesterday I was reading a book where the author had been ministering in China. As he was leaving, the couple he had been staying with told him they would pray for him. When asked what they would pray for they said "We are praying...for the church in America to get more persecution. You see, we see you as rather weak."

I read this and I think to myself, "Aren't I going through enough persecution?" And while my hope is that no Christian would have to go through persecution, God knows better. God knows that's how we most often grow and learn. We are promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear, and when we are tempted God will provide a way out. And isn't persecution temptation? Temptation to renounce God as sovereign in our lives, temptation to say that God isn't really as important as we've made Him out to be. I want to take a page from the persecuted Church, not really a page, but a lifestyle choice...Daily people are willing to give up their life for the sake of Christ. And I don't mean a lifestyle, like going to Starbucks in the morning or driving a nice car, or belonging to a country club, I'm talking about their LIFE. If giving up my right foot is what it takes for me to step up and really start living for Christ, then I will do it.

If I want to live out what I believe, I should be willing to give up anything for the sake of Christ and forwarding His gospel.

Yesterday, I downloaded a new album (don't worry, it was legal, from iTunes) of hymns, I love hymns, I love worship songs too, but I have a special place in my heart for hymns I am often amazed as the spiritual truths that are imparted in those few verses. As you can tell by the title of this post the one that really stuck out to me today is the hymn "I Surrender All." I encourage you to listen to it, I'll provide the lyrics, if you want to listen to the same version as I am, look for Jadon Lavik's album "Roots Run Deep"

Here are the lyrics...

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

* Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

I pray you make that hymn true in your life today, as I pray I make it true in mine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seven Days and Counting

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Seven days.

As I write this, that’s how many days I have left with my right foot, if all goes as scheduled. I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about, but as I was reading just now, I felt compelled to start writing down my thoughts and feelings. So, here goes…

Yes, I’m scared; I’m scared because I don’t know what the future holds. I know that if all stays as scheduled, on Monday, October 4th, I’ll get wheeled into surgery and have my right foot amputated. I know there are people praying for healing before then, and I certainly am as well, but I have to look at the possibility of that not happening. Does that mean I’m selling God short? That I don’t have enough faith to just expect the healing?

No, I don’t think so.>

I don’t know God’s will for me. Oh, I know His ultimate plan for me, to end up in Heaven worshiping Him forever, and I can’t wait for that. What I’m saying is that I don’t know His will for my immediate future, and because of that I have to go with the information I have available. I think it would be irresponsible for me to do otherwise. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel that I will be healed before my foot is amputated, I know my foot can’t be healed after it’s amputated, but I do feel as though there has been a healing brought into my life through this situation.

In the last few months I have even more been called upon to fully rely on God to get me through what’s going on. First of all, if it were up to me I’d still be stuck where I was for the first several weeks after getting out of the hospital…right smack in the middle of self-pityville. People have told me that they can’t believe how I’m handling the situation and I have to tell them that I’m not handling the situation at all, I’m letting God take care of it for me. I know I couldn’t do it, not on my own anyway. I was quite content to wallow in self pity and anger until God kicked me out of it.

Secondly, I’ve had to totally rely on God for my finances. If it was up to what I had saved, and how I had spent, I would have been out of money a month ago, but God provides! Jehovah Jireh! Not only am I current on my bills (ahead on some!) but I still have money in the bank. God has continued to provide through the generosity of His people.

Think that’s good enough? Not for my God.

I also received the answer that I was seeking back in April. In April a couple things had happened that got me wondering if I was only to be in Coastlands for a season, and if that season was ending. There’s precedence for that, several people have joined Coastlands for a year or less and I was wondering if I was going to be one of those people. First of all, I don’t think there would be anything wrong with only being full time with Coastlands for a year, if that what God had called me to. I took some time to think and pray about my future, took most of April off to do that too. And I thought that what was going on with my ankle was the answer to that question. I thought it was time to find something else, go back to a regular job for a while. I even had the conversation with Pam, talking about how I would no longer be able to go with Coastlands.

Then I started getting the cards and letters from students.

When I got home from the hospital, I started getting envelopes filled with cards and letters from students at schools Coastlands had visited last year. I was extremely touched by the notes from students thanking me for visiting them to tell them about God. I was overwhelmed and moved to tears when I received an envelope from one school where the first grade not only wrote notes and cards, but had been collecting support for me. What I realized then was that this was bigger than just me and my decisions, God had been using me to tell students about Him.

This was my answer, and not the answer I had originally thought I had received. It wasn’t “Look, you needed and answer, I broke your ankle to give you a definite answer, time to go find something else” it was “It’s not going to be easy, but it will be fruitful and forward My Kingdom. It will be hard and rewarding, but I want you to stick with it.”

Since God kicked my butt and told me it was time to quit feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been able to spend a week in ministry with Coastlands and it was powerful. I’ve also made a decision, that whatever happens with my ankle two things will ultimately happen. 1 – I will walk again. I’ve now had two different people tell me about a dream they had where I was walking up to them and I believe that will happen. 2 – God will be glorified in whatever happens, that is what I most want to happen out of this.

>So no, I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future