Come Lord Jesus!

Life is an ebb and flow. I didn’t really pay it any mind until I had accumulated five decades of it. Even then it came to mind only occasionally. Now that I’ve amassed more than six of those decades I seem to be reminded more often, more easily, and more forcefully. I have been assured those reminders are likely to intensify as I approach the end of “the race.”

The apostle Paul wrote to his young mentee, Timothy: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have served the Lord faithfully” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul was certain he was approaching the end of his life, soon to be graduated into eternity.

I take great comfort in his statement. Do not misunderstand, I DO NOT think of myself as a “Paul.” However, I do know that Paul had not always been a true and faithful servant of God. I suspect he had always been zealous, but for many years it had been his inherited religious tradition promoted by his zeal. I, in contrast, had not always been zealous about that. I was zealous about me!

Paul, describing himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and still being confident that he had, as he sat in prison as an old man:

  • fought the good fight,
  • finished the race, and
  • served the Lord faithfully.

He followed that statement with: ” Now, a prize is waiting for me—the crown that will show I am right with God. The Lord, the judge who judges rightly, will give it to me on that Day. Yes, he will give it to me and to everyone else who is eagerly looking forward to his coming” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Clearly Paul was under no illusion that he had somehow earned or deserved such a prize, it was a gift he had been promised. There it is! That is the gift waiting for me as well. The ebb and flow of life has burned much of my self-confidence right out of me. Within myself I have little in which to have confidence. (That is quite a statement for a Texan!)

What I do have is God-confidence. He has promised and will deliver, because unlike me, He has always been faithful.

Hallelujah! Come Lord Jesus!

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” You know the line from Grimm’s Fairy Tale #53. You probably actually know it from the children’s Disney movie, Snow White.

Interesting thing about the mirror and our thoughts along the same line, we want it (the mirror) to answer our way. We want it to think, act and respond the way we think, act, and respond. When it does not, we often miss it… or just ignore it and go on about our business.

In the letter James wrote (1:22-27), he mentioned a mirror and different human reactions to it in comparison to people looking into God’s Word and their reactions to it:

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” (The Message)

It is not difficult to figure out how an “All In” disciple should respond to the “mirror,” God’s Word, is it? Do you bother to look into the Word? If you do, are you taking a good, hard look at how you match up to God’s expectations? I suspect that your answer is about like mine: “Sometimes.”

We should be more consistent, you and I. Let’s be more diligent, shall we? After all, Jesus was “All In” when He lived (and died) for us.

photo credit: Miedo a la muerte estilo imperio III via photopin (license)

Suffer the Little Children

A young mother was rushing around trying to herd her children in the general direction of the door so that she could try to get to church on time. So many “last-minute” adjustments to make and the clothing options kept coming “undone” as her young girls were making last-minute wardrobe changes after playing around for so long.

The telephone rang and in her rush the young mother answered wondering, “Who could be calling?” It was the children down the street, wondering if she could give them a ride to church. These children played with hers all of the time, but there was always bickering, tugging and pulling. With a sigh the young mother agreed and told them she would be by in five minutes.

They eventually came boiling into the building, a few minutes after the devotional had begun. Passing into classes, the young mother finally began to regain her composure, at least until the baby she had brought to class with her needed some special attention. She was once again swept away by the ongoing whirlwind of childcare.

Later, after worship, when everyone was preparing to return home, we found them. There were two “notes” written in third grade scribble that had been prepared for the collection trays passed around every Sunday. When read, they placed on open display the hearts of the little children who had called for a ride. The notes said, “I’m sorry that I didn’t have any money to put in the bucket.”

All of the trouble and inconvenience involved in moving the flock of children to worship, without the assistance of a border collie, was clearly part of God’s plan. This young mother likely felt that she would have been just as well off to stay home, since she couldn’t relax and “worship” in the midst of her circle of turmoil. “Worship,” however, was exactly what she was doing. She was elevating God above herself in spite of the turmoil that accompanied her.

This “All In” mother likely felt as if nothing was being accomplished, but God has clearly been doing a great work in the lives of the children all the while. We have not been charged with delivering measurable results, merely faithful response to the opportunities He places on our path.

Be “All In” and let God do the heavy lifting.

photo credit: waiting for the birthday party to begin via photopin (license)

As A Man Thinketh…

I recently noticed a graphic on a social media platform that was a picture of a mannequin in a clothing store that captured the slumped shoulder look of a person that just appeared beaten and in despair. The caption was something along the lines of, “They have finally come out with a teen mannequin.” Sure enough… someone has! I thought it was funny because I recognized the posture immediately, but even beyond that, I felt the despair and hopelessness that I had felt along my way years ago.

We do seem to wear our “innards” on our “outtards” at times. Probably more than we think we do. Have you ever had someone approach and ask how you were? They might even follow with, “You just do not look like you feel well,” That “look” might be because we are physically ill, but as often as not, we may have let our minds run to the “hopelessness, disappointment, despair” programming that has been known to take over when we forget that God is in control and He loves us more than we can imagine.

As mentioned in an earlier post feelings of discouragement, disappointment and frustration are indications that I am really about “me” instead of God, His purposes, and the best interests of others. The mannequin is funny, but it isn’t funny when you or I look that way. It means that we are struggling. We may be struggling with pain, sorrow, or lack of focus… but we are struggling.

Being “All In” doesn’t mean that life becomes a cake walk. It does mean that Jesus will give us rest. If your shoulders are bent and your spirit is crushed, look beyond yourself and take the challenge Jesus offered: “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” Throw your shoulders back, not because you have been empowered… but because the “Source of all Power” has your best interests at heart.

Photo: unknown source

A little catch up…

This is not a “regular” post for this blog, but I do want to bring you up to date on a couple of things:

  1. On my podcast (While I’m Thinking About It) is an interview from a few weeks ago with the blogger, Beauty Beyond Bones. I recommend you take the 35 minutes or so to listen to her story. Many of us look forward to every installment she brings to us. She is a special person.
  2. My cancer tumors have begun flexing their muscles and doing what they can to disrupt my days. I am still ministering in the church where I have been planted by God 14 years ago, but have had to slow down a bit these past couple of months. I am scheduled to begin a brief treatment strategy, with one installment early next week and the other on June 1st. I anticipate they will be nothing more than an inconvenience.

I wanted to share these bits of news. Take the time to listen to the interview. It is Episode # 48, also available on iTunes Podcast: While I’m Thinking About It.

Pray for the success of my treatments if you are so inclined.

Blessings,

Wayne

Defining Myself

I read a social media post by a young man trying to make a difference in the lives of others, but also (apparently) trying to use his own strategies and directions. His frustration with yet another failed project is captured in his following statement: “…Especially when it’s just one more thing in an astronomically long list of things I’ve used to define myself that has also wound up in a huge time investment with no return.”

Did you see it, his perspective on using this project to define himself? Perhaps I recognized it because the same trap often catches me. I have come up with some strategy to “serve” God and have asked Him to get on board with my idea, assuming He would be inclined to do so, especially since that is the way I wanted to serve Him. When it does not seem to work out, I feel defeated and discouraged. There it is folks. My disappointment and discouragement are the “tell tale” indications that I was doing it for me all along.

God’s ways being higher than my ways, often make a strategy that I see as less desirable, actually being the strategy God prefers. God sees around the corners and is never limited to the linear approach to goals and the singlular target approaches I use. He accomplishes much with every decision and I just can not do that kind of planning.

I smiled when I saw the young man’s statement because I see both a good heart, and the old familiar trap of “it is really about me.” I know what it looks like when I do that. What does it look like in your life?

Photo: Heartlight.org