Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Keep Your Head Up

I recently read an article that talks about a problem that a certain city in China is experiencing:  it seems that many people there are so embedded in their cell phones that they are having problems with people getting hurt walking into each other!  Can you believe that!  People have become so distracted, and enamoured with being 'connected' at all times that they have abandoned the practical needs that are right in front of them.  In a very ironic way, they are getting what they wish for:  being 'connected' but with face-to-face encounters with people they are walking into!

It has gotten so bad that city officials have painted special lanes designated for people who want to walk and be on their smart phones at the same time.  These lanes have arrows that point which direction the 'traffic' should flow so that everyone who is in that lane won't have to worry about people walking in the other direction.

I think it would make more sense to just keep your head up--wouldn't you?

I learned that lesson pretty quick when I played hockey as a kid.  If you didn't keep your head up there was bound to be unwanted contact.

I wonder if there is a lesson here that we can learn as children of God.  I wonder if we are so distracted by our lives, our choices, our desires, that we are getting 'unwanted contact' too?  When our life circumstances become so overwhelming that we can't look up to our Father for life and refreshment, then we are living no differently than those people who are bumping into each other because they are so engrossed in their digital world.

By the way, the comparisons go even deeper.  Church generally does a good job in creating 'lanes' for this distracted way of living too.  It happens when the church forgets its real mandate of deepening relationships with each other and with God by over-programming and keeping everyone so busy there is no time left for relationships.  It misses the mark when we fall into the trap of endorsing this distracted over-burdened life by accepting that our primary function as people is to be 'producers'.  When this happens we create an environment for workaholics.  Not pretty.  And I believe there are a lot of Christians and non-Christians alike out there who are longing for something better. . .

Psalm 121 is God's clear call to all of you who are struggling with all the distractions of life that are causing you to have your head down.  He wants you to hear another message--one that brings hope through the voice of David who God had trained to live differently:

"I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you--the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

Here is the hope that God offers to the weary traveller:  Put your trust in Him for your life.  Realize that if you would just stop trying to live with your head down and doing things in your own strength then maybe you would begin to experience freedom instead of frustration.  God is inviting all people to lift their eyes and accept what He offers--a new life and a new way of living, and to all who listen they will find themselves enjoying the protection of the Most High; they will find themselves on the receiving end of the One who desires to provide all things of great value.

And really, all you have to do is look up.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Iced Tea

Have you ever tasted a glass of iced tea that hasn't been stirred up?  It tastes terrible--bland and weak.  But if you stir it the taste comes alive and it is so delicious, especially when you are dry and your throat is parched.

God is in the business of stirring up his church.  Why, do you ask?  Because He wants it to be 'tasty'.  He wants it to be a place where dry and parched souls find refreshment.

Sometimes church can be a place that seems like a lot of iced tea has been poured in but it doesn't taste so good.  It can be bland and there is a sense that something is missing.  I am encouraged--no, actually my spirit begins to be filled with anticipation, when I read that God is in the business of stirring up what He has already poured out to us through His Holy Spirit!

In Acts 2:17ff God says that He will pour out His Spirit on all people, and there will be prophecy, visions and dreams of Mighty God and His desires for His world.  God says that wonders will be shown in heaven and on earth--wonders! And that in the midst of all this stirring, He will bring people into saving relationship with His Son Jesus Christ, the miracles of all miracles!

God is at work.  He is stirring up His people, the Church, to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Church is getting tastier and tastier to all those thirsty souls out there.  Not because we have it all together and are so attractive, but because Jesus is shining through willing and obedient hearts to the world around them. 

An amazing thing in the midst of all this is the fact that we can choose to 'get on board' or resist what God wants to do.  If you are honest with yourself, are you a little afraid of getting 'stirred up?'  If you have a hesitation to step into what the Holy Spirit may want to do through you; if you are a bit uncomfortable because this may mean stepping out of what is familiar and safe, then think of this:

A stirred glass of iced tea tastes so much better than one where all the goodness is just sitting at the bottom of the glass.

God wants to make you tasty!  Will you go?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lost Keys

Don't you hate it when you lose something like your keys?  They are so important to your life's daily rhythm, when you don't have them you really notice, and it can be so frustrating.

A buddy of mine lost his keys today, and it immediately put some boundaries on his day:  schedules changed a bit as he needed to reorganize around this loss.  Thankfully we found them again, but it made me think--when we lose something important in life, it makes us stop and consider how our lives are running, or how they aren't. . . .

Jesus is always concerned about lost things. . .in fact His whole life on earth was based on addressing things that were lost.  Lost relationships; lost hopes; lost dreams; lost desires; lost possibilities; lost freedom and on and on.  At the end of the day, Jesus was here to find what was lost.

Just like my friend whose life became briefly readjusted because of something that was lost, Jesus' life also became oriented toward those possessions of His that had become lost--and He wanted them back, at any cost!

How does that make you feel?  What goes through your mind when you realize that Jesus' life became oriented toward you because of the fact that you had lost your way through sin, and your relationship with God was so important to Jesus that He was willing to live and die in order to 'make found' what was lost?

His love, life and passion were all directed toward YOU!

If you don't know Jesus, then think about this fact--that He was willing to have His whole life reoriented because something of His was lost.  Maybe that will change how you think about God, and His Son Jesus.

And if you are one who has been found by Him, but maybe you are living with a feeling of distance from Him, then maybe it's good for you to be reminded of the fact that you have been found because of His great love for you, and that that has never changed!

Losing something can be so frustrating.  But being found is wonderful!

Maybe it's a good day to just say 'thank you' to the One who has found you!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Searching for God Knows What

This past weekend I had the privilege of watching a few football games.  One of them included my beloved Roughriders, who managed to pull out a hard-fought win.  There were a lot of great plays on both sides of the ball, and I thought that each team represented themselves very well.

There are many people involved in a team game like football.  The numerous coaches, the practice roster players, the starters, the back-ups, all have a role to fill, and all have to perform at the highest and most consistent level to enjoy success.  There is a continuous searching for that 'sweet-spot' when everything is working in unison and moving toward that goal of attaining victory.

We might not all be professional athletes, and we might not even find ourselves working with a team of any kind, but I believe we all have that desire to be successful in life.

As a Christian, I need to be mindful of what real success looks like, and I need to make sure that my priorities match up with my 'coach' who is trying to guide the paths that I follow.

For a Christian, it is imperative to understand that following God's lead must come first.  It is His desire to show us the way.  I have to remind myself again and again that I can't go running ahead on my own, whether in thought or action, as that puts me in the coach's position, and that is not my place, even in my own life!

Psalm 46:10 says 'Be still, and know that I am God."

Usually our understanding in life is "be actively pursuing and performing; be proactive because you are responsible for your own life; be doing, doing, doing. . . . . ;If you have a question that needs answering then get on your horse and find out---make it happen!"

I take this way of living and seamlessly apply to my spiritual life as well---if I have a question about God, then it is up to me to find out the answer;  If I am struggling spiritually, then I had better get on that and do better because it's my own responsibility; If I am feeling dry in my spirit, then it is up to me to get the water I need; if there is a sin that I need to overcome, then I had better apply all my resources to the problem and overcome it!

But this only shows me that my priorities in all of life, both the practical everyday life, and my spiritual life, are messed up. 

God says to us:  "This is your first priority:  Stop!  Stop, and you will discover that I am your God, and in that revelation I will begin to 'coach' you in your life.  You will begin to see life differently.  You will see the directions and choices that make the most sense.  You will begin to discern a spiritual maturity that will help you live more wisely.  Your life will change for the better.  But you need to stop first.

Stop first--that is the first priority in life.  Once that happens consistently--stopping and being in the presence of God to allow Him the space and time to begin to do what He wants in your life--then, and only then will the 'game plan' begin to be revealed.  Once that happens then, we are able to act in concert with our Creator.  It is just like football really--the players need to wait on the coach to lead so that everyone is on the same page.  The players must trust the coach, that he knows what he is doing and that what he asks of you will bring the victory-the success.

We are all searching--and ultimately we are searching not for 'God knows what' but for 'what God knows'.  So I want to encourage you to take being still before Him seriously.  Wait on him and know that He is your God and He will show you the way.