Are we willing?
What does your dream, goal and ambition mean to you? When the government tells you that you can’t be a teacher, lawyer, politician, doctor, and so on, unless you accept certain sins as no longer sin what will you do? Is dream worth so much that you will buckle and bow to the death system. Death system was a term that came up when I was a kid. In books, in TV (mostly anime) it means a system unacknowledgably careening toward destruction, sort of like Chaos Theory. Back then even the secular world could see it coming and what it would bring. Now even Christ followers bow to the death system. Not the death of the planet, though much of the shows that winked at the death system did cover the death of nature, but instead we should focus on the death of our souls and the rape of our minds. Do we even know what’s wrong anymore? Or are we taking a pen and crossing out the parts of our Faith that offend us? I was reminded recently of what Christians face in countries that don’t support the Christ belief. People with high IQs and great talent have demeaning jobs, can’t attend certain schools or social events and live in shamble, because they refuse to deny even a tiny part of Jesus, they embrace Him even though they are left in the street by the world. Do we? Are we willing to take the humble road rather than deny even a speck of our Lord? So often we see “christians” praised for taking a job in a secular setting because they can, “promote their witness” there. But do they? How much of Jesus did they have to deny to get that job? What sins did they accept so that they would be accepted? The devil sits back and gestures to a goblet, “drink this, accept the darkness and I will give you everything.” Jesus takes our hand and says, “don’t! It’s a trap.” We pull away from Christ, “if I drink what he offers then he will give me a place in society where I can promote you better, it’s just a little sip, I’ll be fine.” Our bold statement dies as we drink the whole glass and join the devil. If Jesus says something is wrong then it is wrong no matter our good intentions. Are we willing to live as ditch diggers and serve Jesus by denying the devil? Or have we already taken of the death drink, and now we serve the devil under the badge that used to say ‘Christian’, but now says ‘deceived’?
We are so lost in this death system that we have forgotten what life is. Go back to Jesus. Reach for Him. Don’t let the devil deceive you. Don’t let your heart become poisoned. Give yourself to Jesus. Whatever you end up doing, no matter how valueless it feels, remember- if you are doing it for Jesus, if you are sacrificing it for Jesus, if you are suffering it for Jesus, then what your doing is right. The easy road of compromise leads to death. Not death in this world, but death of your soul. Don’t give in. Fight back. Dare to take God at His word no matter the cost.
Growing in God is something we hear a lot.
“I’m just growing in God.”
“Don’t forget to grow in God.”
“Always grow in God.”
But what does grow in God mean? What visual does that statement give you? I used to picture a sapling, growing into a tree. But lately I’ve had a different visual. Video Games. Hang on, don’t run away yet. Let me explain. Recently I was reminded of my short stint as an avid gamer, and that brought to mind this simili. I had a game for a time… actually I think it’s still in my closet, anyway- this game was a progressive story arc type. You know, you have an avitar and you follow the cheracter on different quests and so on. I recall the peace of the starter village. Old fashioned cabins, cathedrals and pretty brick bridges. You could walk and never see a monster all day. But as you leveled up the game obviously grew harder. Eventually I reached a level where I had to look up the hacks to pass it. Monsters were everywhere and they didn’t die no matter how hard you attacked them. The only way to win that level was to let your character lose all his or her strength, right before your avatar was down for the count you would get a bonus strength boost, and that was the only way to win. What do I mean by all this?
When we first become Christians it’s nice to go to church, maybe bake for a potluck, perhaps you will even read your Bible once in a blue moon. It’s nice and quiet with no work. But. That’s not how we are meant to stay. We are intended by God to level up. And as we level up things will get harder, because the devil wants to keep us low and weak. Say you keep going. Level after level. Praying every day, reading your Bible with conviction, volenteering at your Church and Church events, maybe even branching into missions work. With each level you grow, but with each level the monsters seem to increase. One day you find yourself in an abandoned town with monsters that refuse to die. Why? Because you are doing things right. Thay doesn’t make sense, does it? But the devil is fighting against you. Whatever that monster is. An illness, debt, a habit, or something less personal, like how the world has gone and the darkness and sin taking over. Everywhere you see the monsters. You have fought and fought and now you are on your last life. But don’t forget. As you were leveling up and growing, God was growing with you. Not that He was ever small, but maybe He was small inside you because you hadn’t let Him grow yet. Now you have been growing in God and God has been growing in you, so when your last life comes up blinking and your avatar gets fuzzy, don’t give up! Hold down the A and Y buttons and use your power boost to kill those monsters. In other words, use your trump card. Pray. Talk to God and use His power within you to win the battle and reach the final level. You are never fighting or growing alone, God is right there, you just need to reach for Him.
So go on friends. Level up. Grow with God.
In a world full of Indigos and Wesleys, be a Fesic.
If you have ever watched or read Princess Bride (one my fave movies) you will know these three main characters. Indigo was obsessed with avenging his father’s murder, Westley was consumed by saving and reuniting with his love Buttercup, but what was Fesic’s motive? He was the giant. He used his strength many times to save these people. But why did he bother? He gave up everything. All his money went to Mad Max the healer to save Westley so he could help Indigo and rescue Buttercup. He risked his life attacking the prince’s palace. He even let them set his cloak on fire when storming the castle gate. Why? What was in it for him?
There was nothing in it for him. Indigo was his friend, Westley was in need of help. That was it. That was the only incentive he needed to give everything he had to them. It was a Christ like sacrificial love. Giving your all with nothing to gain.
Even for people we have known most of our lives it’s easy to feel that we have given a lot to them and deserve something in return. Loyalty maybe. Sacrifice on their part for us once in awhile. And when that doesn’t happen it makes us angry. Maybe that friend has even betrayed us in the past and yet we kept giving, but getting nothing back and nothing out of the deal has left a raw spot on our hearts. And yet. Christ keeps giving even though we have hated His people and have crucified Him. We have all been Paul on the road to Demascus at one point or another. Oh, we weren’t killing other Christians most likely, but we were hating them, we were angry, we were running from God, we were cursing Him for something at sometime, or even being mean because we saw ourselves as holy and other Christians as not. We have all ended up here, seeking Jesus because we have been knocked off our horse and now know we were wrong. But even in our cruelty we have been loved by Jesus.
Fesic didn’t expect anything for his sacrifice. He just knew it was the right thing to do.
Indigo might be cooler and Westley more glamorous, but Fesic was the true hero, like Frodo wouldn’t have made it without Sam in Lord of the Rings, Wesley and Indigo wouldn’t have made it without Fesic. Be a Fesic, be sacrificial for others and expect that your only reward is in Heaven with Jesus and that it will be greater then any reward here on earth.
As my mom once said: we are in the boat with Jesus. Our muscles are straining as we pull on the nets, we’re working hard and He’s there, and He’s calm. Our lives are in that boat with Him as we are called to follow Him, we are given nets to catch the fish with and we get tired and stressed because we are working hard with no resault. We repair the nets, we weave new nets, somedays we may even need to build the boat, but it all has purpose. Then when God’s time is right our nets fill to overflowing. So if you feel discouraged, don’t. Don’t get discouraged because God is in the boat with you.
It’s so hard to tell people when you are not okay, and then have them giving their opinions or not fully understanding you hurts so much. But when you give it to Jesus- sit down for a moment and talk with Him, telling Him that it hurts, why it hurts and how much you need Him and His help- it doesn’t hurt more, it might hurt less, and now you have someone you can talk to about it who won’t judge or condem, and He actually can help where people cannot. Isn’t it funny how when you talk to people about your pain they give you a speel about how your Faith should be bigger, or you need to read your Bible more, or you should be praying like this- but when you come to God He just listens. He knows where you are at in the journey and how tired you are and how long you’ve been stuck in this same place. He knows how hard you are trying and how much it hurts. He doesn’t say ‘read more of your Bible, pray harder, grow your Faith until it hurts no more!’ He simply says, ‘come here. Let me hold you. I’ll take care of it all.’
Talk to Jesus. He’s waiting for your call.
Um…no thanks Jesus, I’m good.
Recently I was in church with my cousin. The preacher mentioned the healing of the blind man. You recall that healing? Jesus spat in the dirt and then rubbed it on the man’s eyes. It makes me cringe a little thinking of it, seeing as I’m a bit of a germaphobe. My cousin laughed at me when I rubbed my arms in horror at the thought of having spit rubbed on me. “Ya.” She said, “It’s like. Thanks but no thanks Jesus, I’ll just stay blind.”
She was joking, but it made me think, how often do we turn away Miracles that Jesus wants us to have because we don’t like the way that Christ is going to make the miracle happen? How many times does Jesus spit in the dirt and we draw back because we don’t like it? The miracle that’s coming doesn’t outweigh what we have to go through to recieve it, in our minds it doesn’t at least, if we waited and had the miracle happen despite the spit and mud, we would realize the value and gift of that blessing. How many times has Jesus said, “let me take you through this and I will give you this blessing.”
Or, “if you give up this, I will give you this instead.”?
And so on and so on. But we don’t want to go through the pain, the illness, the fear, the move, the new job, the outreach, [fill in the blank]. What came to mind when you were given the chance to put down your own draw away reason? I know what came to my mind. But as John Wayne once said, “courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyways.” The cause before the effect of the miracle may not cause suffering or pain, but there is always a little fear. It would be strange if there wasn’t, because we are dealing with the ultimate power. God. And His love, grace and blessings. And when dealing with God there is a lot of unknowing. We run headlong on Faith and that can be really scary. But perfect peace comes from knowing that you are trusting what you don’t know to the all knowing, one true, God.
Miracles aren’t always easy. Sometimes they are hard. Sometimes they take sacrifice. Sometimes you have to have spit rubbed in your eye before you can see. But know this. God always, always, always, has your best in mind as He works His plan for your life.
When you’re working with your horse, remember that you’re not trying to perfect every single lesson everyday; you’re just trying to improve each one a little bit. Clinton Anderson
We get so caught up in perfection don’t we? It’s good but it could be better, seems to be an ongoing thought to general life, as well as our Christian walk. Now don’t get me wrong. We are supposed to live lives that are a reflection of our perfect Jesus. However. When we get our heads focused on us being perfect we tend to forget who we are trying to be perfect for, we can also work so hard at one thing that (like our horses) we get frusterated and learn to despise what we are working on. In the same way as when teaching your gelding to not spook at a flag, when you start and find that you are doing better than yesterday then tomorrow give yourself a break and work on something else. If you get so caught up in doing prayer perfectly or worshiping in the right way that you can forget that it’s about spending time with God, it’s about having a connection to him, it’s not about doing things perfectly, it’s just about doing better than you did the day before. And many times doing better than yesterday can simply be actually doing something. And if you do that something three times a week instead of one, then you’re improving. A Christian singer once wrote a song… okay many have written songs on this, but he wrote on feeling Christ deep in your soul, it’s more than hammering through your prayer list or trying to read a full chapter of the Bible before bed, it’s about being with Him. When we stop trying to be perfect and start working on communion, time spent alone with the Father, then we love past all other realms of religon and into truly being part of the body of Christ.
If this doens’t make sense to you then please ignore it, it makes sense to me because of my years training horses, but I don’t want to confuse anyone. Praying everyday and Bible time is very important. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to have you openly seeking Jesus.
We all have a testimony. Where we were, what God has done and where we are now. But sometimes God doesn’t do the miraculous healing. Sometimes He doesn’t stop you from falling. What then? If He hasn’t done what you have prayed for does your testimony still count?
I have a testimony. With all the ‘God delivered me from drugs’ and ‘God healed me from cancer’ I have heard and seen I wasn’t sure if what I had was a testimony or a survival hand book. Then today, I finally heard a woman speak her testimony and guess what? She was still a broken mess and she admitted it. But she had found that God’s powerful love was moving her to help other people with messes because she understood them.
My best friend who is also my mother (and I say that with pride) has had a disease my whole life. She has always pushed herself and given it her all no matter what, but she does struggle. She has to take medication to fill her body with cells that you and I have naturally. Doctors told her she wouldn’t see my 12th birthday. But she did. Then they said she wouldn’t see me graduate. But she did. Then they said she wouldn’t see me turn 25. I’m 26. They don’t understand how she is still as strong, though she feels weak, she isn’t in a wheelchair and that is amazing.
She works harder and cares for more people than anyone else I know. She’s my miracle. Everyday I pray for a miracle healing. But God’s sustaining power is sometimes more amazing than the sudden transformations we see. It hurts. I never know when my next day will be my last. I’m scared some days, broken other days and I know that doesn’t sound very faith filled but God never said it wasn’t going to be hard. I’m not saying that I’m amazing for never denying God because I don’t see my answers. I have fallen down and yelled and cried at Him many times. But God is more than knowledge and Faith, He’s the Holy Spirit living in you, He’s your safe harbor when it all burns down around you. I know through His strong love and strange peace that He is still good and that He still loves her and me, because even when I find myself sitting in a ball on the floor saying ‘God, why?’ I have a peace that passes past the pain. Living with joy in the moments that God has given us. It’s so hard and so vital.
Why does He heal others and not the one who I love? I don’t know. But I know Him, so I know there is a reason. One of my favorite singers said that He started writing music in a time of shifting, when the tables had turned over and he was trying to find where he stood, instead of taking the pain and running and going, ‘this hurts and makes no sense so there is no god’ he chose to reach out to God and seek Him more and in doing so, found more of Him. That’s the big choice we all have when the shifting happens and things hurt, do we say ‘forget it I’m better off on my own’, or do we reach up and say, ‘whatever you’re doing God, it feels awful, but I know that you are God and I am not and you have a purpose’?
It’s easy to give up when life gets hard, it’s hard to hold on.
Have you ever been knocked off a surfboard? You feel like of you just took the strap off your ankle you would be fine and could swim to the surface. But so many times in the delirium of the waves and the rock and the lack of air, the only thing that shows you which way is up is that strap. I have almost drown a few times boarding and everytime it was following the safety strap on my ankle that brought me back to the surface. God is your safety strap. You feel you could swim better without Him, but then you lose focus of which way is right.
Sometimes your prayers go unanswered. Sometimes the pain is confusing.
But God still loves you. And your testimony of His sustaining power and grace without the sudden life transformation is something someone needs to hear.
I’m not down playing the times that God does grant a gift in His miracle, those times are important too and need to be told, but sometimes the day to day step forward is the miracle, don’t down play that or forget how important it is.
Can we pray a moment and just say ‘thank you Jesus’?
Thank you Jesus for your power even when I don’t understand. Thank for your love even when it hurts. Thank you for who you are even when I feel like I can’t find you, you are always there and you always love me. Thank you for who I am because of you. You are so good God. I know I will fall and I know it will hurt, but also know that as your word says, I will not be thrown headlong because you hold my hand. Thank you Jesus.
You are never too dirty to come to the front door of God’s home. He tore the Veil through His son Jesus so that you could show up no matter what you had done. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, He expects you to simply come.
I love how the pure love our dogs feel for us is such a beautiful show of God’s love. People beat and starve their dogs (which is beyone horrible) and yet those dogs still love them. We can call God names and hate Him and He still loves us. The love is unconditional. And that is so rare in people.
My first dog came from a neglectful home. When we rescued him we were told by the vets that he wouldn’t live a week. But they didn’t realize the power of prayer, and he lived till he was eight years old. Some may say that science saved him, and yes science saves a lot of people. But the science didn’t know what to do this time, he had no surgeries or Special Operations. All he had was love and prayer and lived a happy, loved life. All that to say- neglected to the point of death, yet no one was more compassionate or kind then my dog. He had a special love for seniors and those with mental illness and would go out of his way to be near them and to sit on their knees and comfort them, because of that unconditional love.
We neglect God too. We turn our backs on Him, we give Him only enough of ourselves to try to squeeze into Heaven but not enough to actually know Him. And guess what? He still loves us with His whole heart and wants us to come to Him in our filthy rags so He can cover us in beauty. Unconditional love.
Have you ever seen a flower trying to grow up on a pathway?
Of course you have.
Some people see it growing and skirt around it so they don’t interfere with it’s progress, but most people just walk on top of it and keep going. Why would it’s progress matter to them? Why would it’s success make a difference to them?
Broken and head bent with sap seeping out of the stem the little flower looks like it will die there, never to reach it’s final goal.
But if I kind person sees it and tries to help it by binding it’s stem and tying it to a small ground stake, the little flower might grow a little longer. But eventually the old wounds will kill it, because even the simple kindness of a stranger can’t heal the torn tendrils inside. However, if the guardener sees it, broken and dying as more and more people crush it under their feet He would have the power and knowledge to save it. He could dig up the flower and transplant it in a safer spot, then He could go to work, feeding and watering and the perfect amount of sunlight, adding nutrients and stapling back together the broken stalk until it is able to stand. With the help of the Master the little flower can grow, and grow and grow and keep growing until it’s too strong to be crushed by the world again.
As Christians we are trying to grow. Some people see that and let us keep growing but others try to stomp on us and crush us and seems like no one cares. We may find support in a small group or in our friends and even in our pastor, but until the broken vines search for Jesus we will never be truly fixed. People can help but they can’t heal. Until we reach out to Jesus we will continue to fade. But once we reach for Him He knows how to cure us and love us and help us. He is our God and He is our friend and He is good.
Turn to Him when the world is crushing you, only He can truly help you.