Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mend A Fence

This morning my friend is grieving the loss of her brother.  He was just 34.

A little more than 24 hours ago she got a call from the hospital that he was in bad shape and family should make the four hour trip to see him.

There wasn't much hope.

By the time she arrived, he was unconscious and via the occasional Facebook post, we all shared in the roller coaster of emotions - glimmers of hope followed by bits of bad news.

Ultimately, he lost the battle.

Whenever something like this hits close to home, we tend to stop and reflect and insert ourselves into the situation.

Sadly, there is a rift between my sister and I at this very moment.  My brother lives a life on the "edge" and I haven't seen or spoken to him in over a year.  What if that had happened to one of us?  Would there be time to say "I'm sorry?" or "I love you?"

Maybe your family situation isn't as dysfunctional as mine.  Maybe your family unit is close and loving.  But I'm willing to bet somewhere in your life - relationships with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers - there's a fence that needs to be mended.

Life can change in an instant.   

Petty differences need to be resolved. 

If we're going to live a life that declares Christ, we need to practice love, repentance and forgiveness.  Before posting this, I wrote to my sister in an effort to do just that.  If I knew how to reach my brother, I'd contact him too. I don't know if my efforts will bring resolution or not, but I had to try.

Of course, we also need to share the message of salvation with those we know.  We don't want to lose them for eternity when we lose them from this life.  But they won't give us that opportunity if there are hurts between us.  

My challenge to you today is to mend a fence.  Hug your loved ones.  Tell your friends you appreciate them.  Thank a co-worker or neighbor.  Tell them about the love of Christ by showing them through your actions.  Life is short - even shorter than we expect sometimes.  Make every moment count.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trust and the Broken Heart

My heart is broken and I can't say why.  Well, I could, but I won't...it's a personal issue.  One I've grappled with for a long time.  It's one of those things we tend to label as a "test of faith" and say God is "building our character." It's not something we hope for, not something we desire, not something we want to work through.

But there it is. 

Of course, if I had truly given it over some time ago, maybe it wouldn't hurt so badly now.  Or maybe it would have hurt the same, just sooner.  No way to tell, really.

The one thing I do know is that there's a trust issue in the middle of this.  Am I willing to let go of this dream, this hope, this desire, altogether, forever, so He can work out His plan for my life?

How much do I honestly trust God?  

I thought I trusted Him a lot.  He's proven Himself faithful over and over again.  But it's always easier to trust when we have nowhere to go.  When there is NO money left in the bank account, but I still need gas to get back and forth to work a few more days, it's a no-brainer.  I pray.  I ask God for provision.  When a friend is hurting because of a health concern, a relationship problem, the loss of a job.  I pray.  God knows the need and will meet it.  When a loved one dies and there is intense grief that feels like it will never subside.  I pray.  God heals broken hearts, mends lives, brings purpose out of pain.  Even when it's a good thing like an outreach but there are so many variables that it is impossible to plan for each one.  I pray.  God works all things together ministering to the hearts, minds and souls of those served, and receiving the glory.

But in all these cases, there is nothing I can do.  It is out of my control.  There are no circumstances to be manipulated.  It is a relatively easy thing to relinquish the doubts, the fears, the needs up to God for Him to sort out and make right when we feel powerless in our own strength.

I trust Him a lot...but do I trust Him completely?

This thing that is breaking my heart.  How often have I tried to work it out on my own?  How many times have I offered it over to God while never removing my hand?  It too is out of my control, but I refuse to see that.  I'm pretty sure given more time, more effort, a different approach, I can make it happen.

My trust is impeded by fear.  If I let go completely, altogether, forever...what if He doesn't give it back?  What will I do then?  What happens to the minutes, hours, days and even years I've invested in this dream...spent cultivating this hope?  What will fill my time now?  Will there be a new dream?  What will that look like? 

I feel sick in the pit of my stomach at the very notion of it.  

I have no answers other than to trust in the God I know is faithful.  Like the acrobat who lets go of the swing bar, hands out, eyes searching for the one who's watching for the release, I have to trust in the only One who can catch me.  Trust in His perfect timing and in His grip.  After all, He's the one who has plans to prosper and not harm me.  The one who withholds no good thing from His children.  The one who has my name etched on the palm of His hand that is outstretched and reaching for me.  These thoughts offer me immense comfort, but still I know the way will be hard.  I've faltered before.  I may again.

And so I pray. 

Matthew West - Rest
Psalm 34:18  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Future of Awesome

The future of awesome.  That's the tagline for an Xfinity commercial.  If you've never heard of Xfinity, congratulations.  You either don't own or don't watch television - and that's not a bad thing!

Xfinity is the 'rebranding' name of Comcast, an internet and cable provider.  In the commercial, we're shown a picture of a phone streaming a TV show while the voice over tells us 'this is your TV'.  We see people skyping on a TV and hear 'this is your phone' and so on.  A plethora of electronic devises not being used in traditional ways because technology changes so much and so quickly we can never be sure of what we know.  And that is what they define as the future of awesome.

By contrast, my Jesus Calling devotional had this to say yesterday:  "I am yours for all eternity.  I am the Alpha and the Omega: the one who is and was and is to come.  The world you inhabit is a place of constant changes-more than your mind can absorb without going into shock...I, however, am the same yesterday, today and forever." 

As the Rich Mullins song says "our God is an awesome God."  HE'S the future of awesome.  And the past.  And the present.

We are constantly being conditioned to change.  We need to be entertained every moment.  I write commercials for a living.  Studies have shown that I have 3-4 SECONDS to grab your attention before you tune out or move on. 

The same seems boring...stagnant...so, well, predictable!

That's the thing about God.  His character never changes.  It's always predictable.  He is true to His word and His promises.  BUT...His ways are never the same.  Never boring or stagnant.

Ever look at how Jesus healed people in the Bible?  No two the same.  Ever wonder why that was?  I think it's because He knew that we humans, for all our love of change, long for predictable.

Wait, isn't that contradictory?


We long for sameness because we want to be able to say, if I do this and this, the result I'll get is this.  But when we think we are able to control our destiny with formulas, we stop seeking God.

"I got this one Lord" becomes the attitude.  

God likes to shake things up.  His character is the same, but His methods often changed.  Jesus healed those who sought it, but He did it differently each time.  He answers prayer, but creatively and often times in ways we would never expect.

When we long after the unchanging nature of God...when we make it the unwavering foundation of our faith...when we learn to trust that He IS the same yesterday, today and forever - then we will enjoy a life that is never stagnant or boring.  His creativity and variety satisfy our desire for change.  It is the best of both worlds.  It is change in the MIDST of being certain of what we know.  And that is a much better thing.

It's the eternal future of awesome...but it's ours today.