February 28, 2010

Living for Just Before

"There is a moment, a simple moment, before history gets recorded.
Before it goes in the books.
Before it appears as a question on a game show.
Or on a midterm exam.
A moment right before the headline is written.
There is a moment when history lives in the present.
When we can watch it unfold in real time, right before our eyes.
And we can all assume our place in it.
Some people live for history.
We live for the moment just before."
                 Source:  CNN.com transcripts
It takes courage to move toward the God who has moved toward you;  courage to risk what you know for what could be. It takes the courage in the moment just before what you do becomes your history.  Every simple moment matters. As a friend who signs his emails "m" says, "It's the little moments that matter." Moment by moment our lives, become at the end of the day, history. Oh, to live those moments under the power of the Holy Spirit, to assume our places in the moment before history is made. May the history of our lives teach well the faithfulness and goodness of our Great God who was and is and is to come.

February 19, 2010

Reason to Celebrate

I had my birthday last week.  My birthday is a day-- the day I entered into this world and a day that has been set apart to mark every passing year of my life.  I thought that last year would be the last February 11 that I would celebrate (actually be happy to have another one).  After 45, all other birthdays I was sure, would come with the feeling that probably the best of life was behind me. It would be time to grow old gracefully. Never did I think last year at this time, that God would have me reflecting back on life as I worked through the pages of Breaking Free.  Another birthday has come and gone and I can confidently say that thinking my birthday last year would mark the end of the best years of my life was wrong. This Bible study is helping me to grasp how far God has brought me since the day the chains fell off. I am humbled and overwhelmed at the grace of God.

What Beth Moore said about truth and perception is so true. What is true and what we perceive about it may be two different things.  The truth for me is that there were a lot of great things in the first 45 years of my life -- dreams that came true, and happy surprises, relationships that enriched me, not to mention coming of age and maturing in the incredible time where now I hold a computer in my lap, a cell phone in my hand, and the windshield wipers on my car come on automatically when it rains!  

But I don't feel any sense of the best has passed me by. In fact, at 46 I am more hopeful, more content, and am more comfortable in my skin than I was at 36. The truth is that there were a lot of difficult things in those first 45 years. Those painful things have shaped my life even more than the great things that I am so blessed to have as my life story. The other truth is my God is a Redeemer.  He took all the "junk" that I thought would mark me forever and changed it into something beautiful. Pain I thought I would want to forget has become a precious reminder of the grace and mercy of our Great God. On birthday 46, I am find myself more grateful than ever that God was willing to give me more than I ever dreamed I could have---not material things, but eternal things--unimaginable riches in Christ that came to me through grace alone. Believe me, I fought it---worked hard to convince God I was unworthy and yet God still loved me. There is no way I deserve to live with such an assurance of being loved by God, living in hope, and knowing that if I don't get another day on this earth, millions upon millions of days await me in eternity with my Savior.

These things aren't true in my life  because I am special, or the exception, and because I'm real proud to "have it all together." I don't!!! I never have. Everyday I recommit myself to live for Christ. I fail---often; still I press on. As I have prayed for the ladies in my classes this week, I am feeling that some may be losing hope. They are tempted to give up on believing they'll never be free of their chains....they are being confronted with truth and they are letting a lie be added to it. It goes like this: "I don't have to put myself through this. Who am I kidding?  What I have is as good as it gets." THAT IS A LIE!!!!  And it is a lie Christ-followers believe all the time. Weary and heavy laden with guilt and shame they choose to believe the lie rather than the Truth has come to set them free.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:24-26
Listen. Look. Learn. Continue. Be Blessed. 

February 12, 2010

In the Thick of It

One of the great benefits of the Christ life is knowing and experiencing the Presence of God in the life of the believer. Too often, I believe we quench the power of the Spirit within and go on through life, the daily-ness of it, with out experiencing it with God. How strange that we don't acknowledge the One who has promised to "never leave us, nor forsake us" (Hebrews 13:5).

It is during the storms of life that we want to know that we know that Christ is near us. We want to feel and experience His power in our lives. I think that was the case for Peter when he was in the thick of a storm and got a glimpse of Jesus in the midst of it.
 22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
 27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
 28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
 29"Come," he said.
   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
 Matthew 14:25-32
In the midst of a storm, the disciples found themselves out on the lake in their boat taking on the onslaught of wind and waves. Then they saw a ghost out on the water. At least, that was their first thought. Their fears were abated when Jesus identified Himself---- although he didn't immediately stop the storm.

What I think is so interesting about this story is that Peter wanted to be in the thick of the storm with Jesus. He wanted in on the action-----but then He didn't. He wanted Jesus to call out to Him and so Jesus told him to "Come." Peter jumped out onto the water walking toward Jesus then his senses kicked in. He recognized the wind and the waves around Him and fear stepped into what had been his faith-driven adventure with Christ.

I think so often in my life I can be like Peter. I want to be out their doing kingdom things, out there with Jesus, in on His action, but then I look around at the huge waves of uncertainty all around me, and I start to sink, I pull back from what I stepped out of the boat to do. My circumstances create doubt and fear. I choose to focus on those emotions and I let them trump my faith.

It is interesting to me that Peter really was willing to put his life on the line and Jesus was happy give him an opportunity to live a miracle by calling him on out onto the water but Peter pulled back in his heart.  Fortunately for Peter when he started sinking there was the Hand that brought him back up out of those rolling waves. His salvation from the storm did not come, however, without a probing question: "You of little faith,... why did you doubt?"

We don't get Peter's answer. Was he thinking, because I am human!!!  I know the weak faith he expressed in that storm because I have experienced it myself. Like Peter, I am human and I live in the flesh. Is that why I sometimes hold back when I really want to get in on the action of the Spirit-filled life?  I am thankful that Peter took those steps, that Jesus raised him up, and in the end Jesus was worshipped.  I thank God for that encouragement in His Word and I pray for greater faith--a faith willing to get into the thick of it with Jesus. A faith that keeps me from sinking when I step into a storm.