Friday, August 26, 2011

I Want to Go With You

"As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We'll be praising Christ, enjoying each other." (Philippians 1:24-26)

I was preparing to leave out of town on business when my granddaughter walked up to me and said,

"I want to go with you granddaddy."

I looked at her wondering why in the world would she want to go on a trip which I didn't look forward to. I thought, if she only knew how much I'd grown weary of leaving home each Sunday afternoon, sleeping in a hotel for the next five days lacked any measure of excitement.

"Why would you want to go with me baby girl?"

"So I can watch you."

I've been thinking about those words all week and how Paul wrote that he felt conflicted about staying on earth to encourage the saints, or to go and be with the Lord. (Philippians 1:24-26) In that moment, hearing my granddaughter's words, I too felt conflicted; stay or go. But she felt no conflict, she clearly knew what she wanted. She wanted to go with me.

Jesus told his disciples that He also was leaving to prepare a place for them. (John 14:2-3) Our hearts cry out to Jesus because of this promise not only to prepare a place for us but to come again. (John 14:28) As followers, we hope with anticipation for the return of our Lord. Our hearts long to be with Him, but we also know that we are here for the purpose of demonstrating Christ in our lives; the hope of our glory.

Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we're lost, sometimes we feel all alone, we get tired, weary, discouraged, and hurt. But the Lord has promised to never leave or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5) We can be assured that Christ never fails, His word is true. No matter what we face in this life, we are never alone.

Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for being present in our lives. You are The Promise Keeper and You are the perfect example of being true to my words. Teach me Lord by Your Holy Spirit to live my life in anticipation of Your return. I want to hear the words, "‘Well done, my good and faithful servant." I want my life to please you in all I think, say, and do. May the Holy Spirit guide me in all that I think, say, and do. I pray not only for myself, but for others as well; that they experience Your divine intervention and wonderful grace. You are our Advocate. Your blood is poured out as the ultimate sacrificial drink offering. An offering which pleases the Father. Thank You Lord Jesus for saving me from the bondage of my sins. Amen.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

Friday, August 19, 2011

There is a difference

She stood before me, knee-high to a duck, but full of confidence.

"You want to know the difference between Khartune Netwurk and Nic Joonyer?"

I barely heard her voice but I focused my eyes upon my granddaughter, and nodded my head, waiting to hear the difference.

"Khartune Netwurk has khartunes, and Nic Joonyer doesn't."

And just like that, I now knew the difference!

One of the beautiful qualities in children, is that they cut to the chase; children rarely beat around the bush. I looked at my granddaughter and said, "I didn't know that!"

She thought I was saying that, I didn't understand what she just revealed, so she reiterated it for me.

"Khartune Netwurk has khartunes, and Nic Joonyer doesn't."

"OK, babygirl. Thank You."

I now know some of the characters who perform on Cartoon Network (Khartune Netwurk), like Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Road Runner; by the way, they do not appear on Nick Jr.

My granddaughter doesn't think I know very much about important things, and her pop quiz verified my lack of knowledge. Sometimes, I have that attitude toward God, that He doesn't know what I do about important things. You know, particularly the things which matter to me.

The bible says God knows:
  1. Those who are right (Psalm 1:6)
  2. The secrets of our heart (Psalm 44:21)
  3. Our thoughts (Psalm 94:11)
  4. Our physical makeup (Psalm 103:14
  5. What is hidden in darkness (Daniel 2:22)
  6. Our needs (Matthew 6:8)
  7. The Son (Matthew 11:27)
  8. The end of time (Matthew 24:36)
  9. The mind of the Spirit (Romans 8:27)
  10. The thoughts of the wise (1 Corinthians 3:20)
  11. Those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19)

The truth is that God knows and there is a vast difference between what God knows and the limits of my knowledge; yet I choose to offer Him my counsel, even though it is unnecessary.

The strange thing is that God listens to me when He already knows what's in (and on) my mind. I'm learning to stand on the precipice of grace, trusting in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5). Realizing that God loves me unconditionally, without reservation, or regret. So on those times when I want to offer my opinion, I'll remind myself the difference between Khartune Netwurk and Nic Joonyer; confessing that I trust God with my life.

Dear Lord,

You alone are The Sovereign God who knows all things. You are teaching me to trust You, to love as You love, and to forgive as You forgive. Your grace oh Lord, is beyond my understanding. Thank You for the revelation of Your truth, the truth of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I offer up my praise to You; You are so deserving of all glory, adoration, and praise. You are righteous, holy, just and true. Thank You for intervening in ways which extend beyond my comprehension. You are able to do above and beyond all we can ask, hope, or think. You bless our lives daily by Your grace which is totally sufficient; through our weakness, Your grace is made perfect in our lives. Thank You for being Jehovah Jireh; The Lord Who Provides. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank You Lord!

Every now and then, I find myself in wonder and awe of the mighty God we serve. Since He is God (Isaiah 45:18), it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that His capacity to shower our lives with grace and blessings is:
  1. By His choosing
  2. Because of His unfailing love
  3. Because He is unchanging
So today, I want to be particularly focused in what I say to Him because I'm thankful (Psalm 18:49, Psalm 57:9, Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 1:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Hebrews 13:15).

Three weeks ago, my oldest son and his wife became parents of a little baby girl. She entered this world struggling for her life. Every family member and extended family prayed for her survival. She is breathing on her own now but she needs to increase her intake of nutrition in order to gain sufficient weight to be released from the hospital. My son is a first time parent and as he and his wife continue to walk together facing some of the trials of parenthood, they both know there is a God who heals, and a host of witnesses who stand in prayer with them.

I don't know if this means the end of my topic on love, but it no longer matters what topic I write about as long as God receives the glory and praise.

If you don't know God, or if you're struggling with faith in God, if you find yourself mired in sin, then take heart my friend; God cares about you (Psalm 138:8). He loves each of us so much, that he gave His only Son (Jesus Christ) to die a painful death in our place (John 3:15-17, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8); just to remove the penalty and stain of sin that condemned our lives. That's who God is! Ask Him right now to save you, to step into the confusion of your life and bring you the peace that goes beyond a measurable number (Philippians 4:7). While there is no guarantee that God will change your current circumstances, He will change you. God will enable and empower you to go through any fiery trial a person can face in this lifetime (1 Peter 4:11-13). That may not sound as appealing as rubbing a bottle and having a genie appear to grant you three wishes, but it's far better than living in a fantasy world.

God does the impossible that we might become witnesses that The Lord, He is God! (1 Kings 18:21-40)

When I think about how good God really is, it makes me want to shout His praise!

Almighty God and Father,

My soul asks,
"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for all His bountiful dealings?]I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord...I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth."

I will lift up my hands O Lord, exalting You as my Lord and God. Your love is beyond measure and Your grace can not be contained. There is joy which You have put in me, though at times, it is unspeakable, I cannot contain or restrain the words of adoration from my mouth. Thank You Lord God, You are great, and greatly to be praised! Look on those who need Your healing touch upon their bodies. If You but say a word, those who are mired in discouragement, will be strengthened and renewed. Send Your peace which transcends all understanding, which exceeds anything we can understand, and which surpasses all comprehension, so that our hearts and minds are protected and shielded in Christ Jesus.

This is our prayer today O Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Happy Birthday MG, I chose this song for you:

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Purpose-filled Relationship

Have you ever gotten into your car and driven for a while then suddenly realized you were headed in the wrong direction or driven past your destination? I hate when that happens to me, because it means I'm lacking focus, and driving a car requires focus. If you're like me, you suddenly realize you weren't paying much attention to what you were doing or where you were going. I call it “auto pilot” (only there's no AP system to engage), but by not paying attention to what I'm doing, I've “mentally wandered away”; giving me a reason to be concerned. I don't think I'm the only one this happens to because everyday while driving to work, you'll see someone driving in the left (i.e., passing lane) holding a cell phone to their ear. I've seen women with a curling iron, guys reading newspapers; activities that aren't consistent with driving a car. We get into certain behavior patterns that initially appear innocuous (to us). It's almost as if I'm unconscious, sleep-walking as it were; while simultaneously being conscious. What I like to call, “Unconsciously Conscious”.

I read someone's blog that gave me one of those “Ah Ha” moments. I say that because sometimes, I read a blog and I'm on cruise control; not really feeling what the blogger is saying. This was the case recently. My mind had drifted in and out of issues surrounding a family emergency, and I needed a break, so I started reading blogs. I had never read this particular blogger before, so I had no framework for the particular writing style she used. Her topic was about a guy; not just any guy, a particular guy. There was a section on her post that snapped me back into consciousness and out of my intellectual cruise control:

...I am a simple booty call. To him I am nothing more than just another girl. I was okay with this when we began.... As of now I don't know anything about him or his life. This is so stupid of me, but I can't help it..... I don't want a relationship with him, I don't want to love him, I just want him here.

This made me ask myself the question, “Is there a genuine purpose in the unconsciously conscious things we do, or is it just something we just do out of habit?” How can I truly do something effectively and find satisfaction and meaning, when I'm not aware of what I'm doing, or why I'm doing it? Can I truly be happy just doing it? Nike's motto is, “Just Do It”, but hidden in those three words is the implication, that:
  1. You really know what you're doing
  2. You really know why you’re doing it
  3. You really understand how to do it
These three actions are what identify a relationship with a purpose; what I call aPurpose-filled Relationship”. I think there are times when a relationship can move into the “Unconsciously Conscious” realm; two people find themselves lacking purpose in their relationshionship and waiting for something to happen. To them there no longer exist a real purpose in it (if there ever was); it was merely something for them to do. If I'm driving my car, behaving in this manner, I can self-correct by re-establishing my focus while driving. It's much more difficult to do this in a relationship, because, for some, this is how the relationship began; so, it always lacked real purpose. A purpose-filled relationship has to have more going for it that a mere “hook-up or booty call”.

Some guys (and women) might say, “Give me a booty call that has great sex, and I'll take that over a meaningful, purpose-filled relationship any day”.

I would say to them, “You don’t understand the purpose of a relationship, and you will eventually find yourself living a lonely, unfulfilled and empty life; never recognizing the potential for loving another or achieving your relationship purpose!

I look at a purpose-filled relationship like a multi-layered cake; decorated with frosting. The frosting is like a binding agent that holds the layers together. A frosted cake can be sliced and the layers won't collapse. Now some cakes look really appetizing until you slice them. I remember buying a cake that looked so pretty until I got home and sliced it and to my surprise, it was molded! A great tasting cake isn't defined by how it appears; its purpose goes beyond appearance. A purpose-filled relationship must be more than a pretty, layered cake. A purpose-filled relationship isn't for show; it's for real. Because its real, a purpose-filled relationship is defined by:
  1. Love
  2. Commitment
  3. Unselfishness
Love: A purpose-filled relationship needs love because love inspires two people. Love comes from recognizing a vision of one's future; a future which has no meaning without that other person in it. It's a shared vision because you both communicate it to each other, every time you say, “I love you” (and you're not just mouthing the words). A purpose-filled relationship needs love because love directs two people. It's a mutual direction because you both recognize the need to work together to get the relationship to a specific place. Getting to that specific place, means that the two of you are in a potato sack race; you aren't opponents, you're partners.

The great thing about being partners (husband and wife) is that you genuinely like the other person; you're really friends. A purpose-filled relationship needs love because love sustains two people. Love comes from possessing the ability to endure; strengthening your partner when they need bolstering, and not just when they ask for help. Both people realize they can function successfully without the other, but they similarly acknowledge that they don’t want it without the other person. All relationships go through roller coaster experiences; the ups and downs, twists and turns, and the highs and lows; things that can derail a relationship. A purpose-filled relationship is sustained through the storms, because they know the shelter is there for them both. When you have love in a relationship, you have vision, direction, and endurance.

You can never have a purpose-filled relationship if you are unable to capture a vision of loving that person tomorrow. Truly loving someone isn't just a matter of imagining them in your future; it's living out that future each and every day with them. The bible says, "Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish..." (Proverbs 29:18, Amplified) Just as we need a vision from God to quicken our heart to love and commit to obey Him, we need a vision of love for that one person that quickens my heart with love, passion and a desire to commit my life to them.

There is absolutely nothing more fulfulling than loving another person! I realize that:
  1. No one can eat just one Lays potato chip
  2. Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sarah Lee
  3. You can't get enough of that Sugar Krisp
  4. Ford's are built tough, and
  5. Enterprise will come pick you up
But the truth is that none of those things surpass love, nor will they give you a vision to love.

I don't believe that I have ever been inpired by a thing, it's always been a person. A new car is nice, but it won't inspire me. Thrill me? Yes. But at some point, the thrill will be gone and I'm ready to move on to the next thrill.

Love isn't a thrill.

It's a willingness to surrender my will by demonstrating my love. John calls us to witness God's love when he says, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us... (1 John 3:1, NASB) The Apostle Paul asks the question, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35, NASB)

When you love someone, there is nothing that can separate you from that love. Love for God, love of a parent, love of a child, love of a spouse; even death lacks the ability to steal your love for another.

That's the security of love.

Father God,

I long for You in the early morning before the sun rises. I seek you in the noon hour. At night, I kneel and call upon Your name. O God, worship and adore You. You are my strong tower and my Deliverer. Thank You for loving me so completely. Teaching me in turn how I ought to love; really love from my heart. Yes, I love Your blessings which enrich my life, but I seek You Lord. I'm amazed that You turned and considered me worthy of Your precious grace. I have yet to truly grasped Your love and grace, but I never tire of seeking to know You and the power of Your resurrection.

I lift up before You, husbands and wives, blessed by You with a love for one another; fulfilling their relationship purpose. I pray for those struggling in marriage, those lacking real vision, those who have yet to understand their purpose. Give them a vision Lord, excite them with passion and joy. Those of us living as single men and women need You as well O Lord. We love You too. Bless us to remain faithful to You. Amen Dear Lord Jesus, Amen.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sunday's