Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Am I the only one out there who gets frustrated by the nothing of waiting? I know that God has something else for me, I know that this is a time of preparation. But man! Can a brotha get a break here?! I pray and seek Him, His path, His way. I feel His embrace, His love and I know Him to be guiding me. I'm just not sure where. I cannot describe the differences He has made in my life but the waiting is frustrating, is all I'm saying.

I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief. I love You, Lord. Help me to love You more!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Prayer for today

What is this restlessness in me, Lord? What are you doing in me, in my heart? I feel You moving most times, speaking and I can often easily distinguish Your voice. Then, there are times like now.

Times when there is silence. A waiting for You here.

I know You are here. I just don't know what You're saying, where You're leading. And it' frustrating. I burn to follow, draw my sword, charge into the fray with You. Then silence and I am lost. What do I do with silence, without the call to arms?

Meet me here, Jesus. Come into this silence and love me as only You can. You are my rest, my place of coming home. Show me how to rest, to wait in Your presence.

Come, Jesus.
Teach me to be still.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The goal of perfection

I was having a conversation with someone awhile back. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation came about but I mentioned not doing something. I said there were certain things that I don’t eat. I made the comment that I didn’t want to eat said items because they had sugar in them and I’m on a pretty strict diet. So this person says to me, “That’s right cause you don’t want to mess up your perfect body.” To which I replied that I was far from perfect and had a long way to go, especially in that area. So then, the other statement from this person sort of took me off guard and I was taken aback. They berated me for my desire for perfection and told me I was arrogant to even say that.

This little exchange spurred some thoughts for me. First of all, it caused some self-examination, which is never a bad thing. Was I being arrogant in my desire for perfection? I don’t think so. I say that because Jesus said for us to be perfect.

“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

Not good or better. Notice He didn’t say ‘Be nice, don’t cuss, drink or smoke. Pay your taxes and go to church.’ No, He said be perfect as our Father is perfect. Now THAT is a mission for your life right there!!

Now, I know this has immediate push-back here. Some of you reading this are thinking right about now that I’ve gone off the reservation. I get that. I never said this was going to be easy. Jesus never said this was going to be easy. Then again, do you really believe that He would have told us to do something that was impossible? What I love about this statement by Jesus and indeed His whole existence here on earth is that Jesus didn’t really beat around the bush about a lot of things. And He didn’t give us a lot of warm fuzzy feelings about some things. I mean, He talks about loving your enemies, praying for those who hate you, taking up your cross, giving up everything to follow and lots of other hard things. Then, He pulls out this perfection thing. None of it sounds easy.

I think perfection IS to be our goal. In ALL aspects of the life He has given us. I think that He is working toward the perfection of not only the earth but the perfection of humanity as well. Jesus taught His disciples, when they prayed, to ask for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven. Heaven is perfect. So, shouldn’t we strive for perfection on earth as well?

I really believe we do ourselves and Jesus a disservice when we are lazy in our approach to anything. Be it jobs, family life, marriage, child rearing, exercise or whatever it is. We owe it, if we are His followers, to strive for perfection. And I believe that effort should be in all aspects of life. If you read Jesus’ words, He didn’t compartmentalize life. Everything was one big piece. For Jesus, life was about the perfection of His life to bring glory to God the Father. To bring glory to the Father.

How dare we do less? What are we striving for and do we need to set our goals just a wee bit higher?

I know this. I don’t want to stand before Jesus one day, look in His eyes and tell Him I thought He meant somebody else when He said ‘Be perfect.’ I don’t want to look at Him and tell Him that I didn’t even try because it was too hard.

Do you?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A picture of mercy

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

- John 8: 3-11 (NLT)

As I travel this new path He has me on, I have learned so much. I have learned to begin to see myself as He sees me; through the eyes of redemption and freedom. I have learned to begin to believe in who He made me to be; a voice calling out ‘Freedom!’ and so many other facets of my heart He is showing me over time. I am also learning how much Satan hates me, how cunning he is and how well he knows his targets. We are his targets.

I think we do ourselves and the kingdom of Heaven a disservice when we do not acknowledge Satan’s hatred of us and his knowledge of us. He knows where we are vulnerable, where to hit us, how to weaken our defenses until we give in. Almost without thinking.

Isn’t it amazing how easily we give in, how little resistance we put up? I am deeply alarmed at how easily I give in, how sneaky Satan is and how pleasurable sin is.

I feel like I’ve been in a boot camp type thing for awhile. For the last eighteen months or so, He has lit me on fire. He has set me free, given me a new heart and told me who I really am. He has taken me deep into my wounds to receive His healing. He has opened my heart to His word and to people. It has been a remarkable journey, a time of preparation, training if you will. I know He is preparing me for something.

So, when He sends me out from my comfort zone in Him, my “training place”, it is as if I were on a short incursion into enemy territory. A test of my resolve, to see what I have learned, so to speak. I am reminded of the movie scene where a young Luke Skywalker is sent into a dark and cold cavern to face some thing, he knows not what. He asks the wise master Yoda, “What will I find?” Yoda’s reply, “Only what you take with you.” In Luke goes and comes face to face with his darkest fear, only to discover that he is his own worst nightmare.

How like the dark one that is. How like Satan, to prey on our weakest point! He knows where we are vulnerable, remember?

So, sent out, I go. A temptation occurs, my first test. I heard the voice of Jesus in my heart, the call of my Shepherd, “Stop now, Scott. You are playing with fire and I cannot protect you if you go on without me.” I saw in my mind the stop signs and warning flares going up.

And, I walked right past Jesus. Standing there with His arms open wide, I brushed Him aside and dove intentionally into my temptation. How easily I ignore Him. As I thought of it later, I was devastated by how casually I spurned Him.

I took my failure to Him, weeping at my indiscretion, shamed at my failure. Wrapping me in His arms, He smiled at me and said, “You are already forgiven. What have you learned?” No yelling, no condemnation. Only mercy. Only love pouring from His open arms. “Stop beating yourself up. Everyone falls. Now get up and move on,” I heard His whisper in my heart.

This passage from John, this story is me. I am the adulterous woman, caught in sin. The accusers, Satan and the poison he tries to plant in my heart gather stones to beat me with. Yet, Jesus stands before my self-loathing, before Satan and all the other hypocrites who would accuse and says, “Forgive and let’s move on. You are not without sin either.”

Then, He reaches out His hand. Groveling in the dirt at His feet, I am overcome with my failure, my shame. Picking me up, dusting me off, He says, “I don’t accuse you. I love you. I forgive you.” Then, with love in His eyes, He speaks freedom into my heart. “Now get up, move on and sin no more.”

Here’s my point. You do not have to be defined by your failures. I don’t have to be defined by my failures. If we stay groveling in the dirt of our sin and failures, we play right into Satan’s hands and the stones fly. But, the Master calls us upward and forward to a new day, a new direction, singing a song of freedom…”Go your way and sin no more.”