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!

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

Deliverance

We are so easily distracted. We “plan” to do something, but run out of time (or energy) and it doesn’t get done. We decide we will not do something, but lo and behold (a colloquialism from my past) we do it anyway. We are a mess.

The Apostle Paul expressed the same frustration in Romans 7. His frustration produced the exclamation: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” His answer to his own questions was, of course, Jesus Christ!

No indication that Paul wallowed around in self-pity or self-abuse as a result of his “bad” choices and actions. He ran to Jesus and trusted Him. It’s not that Paul wasn’t sorry that he had been a disappointment and had personally failed to live up to God’s standards. The thing is that Paul trusted the blood of Jesus and God’s promise that He loved Paul anyway!

Being an “All In” disciple of Jesus isn’t about performance. It is about trusting and, therefore, obeying. We aren’t just to trust Him in salvation and living. We are trust His promises and relax into His love.

Where Can I Get One and How Much Does It Cost?

Due to vision surgeries and other health issues that have arisen over the past few years I have begun cycling anew. No longer able to successfully deal with balance and energy levels required to ride a typical bicycle, I have taken the plunge into the world of recumbent trikes.

When I purchased this trike I was warned to plan extra time into my travels to allow for conversation, because people will want to talk about it, and they have. They ask about comfort, because it looks comfortable… and it really is comfortable. They ask about the steering because it does not have conventional handlebars like most people expect. They ask about climbing the many changes in elevation because we have those in Eastern Middle Tennessee. It climbs well. It’s not fast, but it climbs. If I get tired I just set the parking brake and sit there on the slope and catch my breath, starting again (even uphill) without difficulty most of the time. The point is that it is wonderful for me at this time along my journey.

They usually announce that they want one of these, asking:

  1. Where did I purchase it?
  2. How much does it cost?

They receive the first answer easily, the second… not so much. These cost significantly more than traditional cycles. When they hear the price point, they lose their interest, shrug their shoulders, and walk away.

I have seen the same response from people when they see the peace that comes from being an “All In” disciple. Calmness in the middle of life’s thunderstorms is attention grabbing because few people have experienced that in their own lives. They ask about it, say that they would like to experience it, then walk away when they hear the price.

“Denying self” in the process of “coming unto Jesus” for the “rest” He promises is a much higher price than most are willing to pay. I suppose that they just do not believe it can be that peaceful.  Perhaps they are just not “broken” enough to seriously consider it. They still think they can get where they want to go on their own. I did not consider the trike a good alternative until I became convinced I could not “do it” with a conventional bike. Now I wish I had upgraded to a trike years ago.

Upgrading to Jesus is well worth the price of total surrender of self. If you are interested, I can help point you in the right direction. My friend David has the trikes, but Jesus is the one with the “peace.”

 

My Inconvenience May Be God’s Plan

While playing a recorded interview scheduled to air a couple of weeks later, I encountered a “glitch.” Evidently the entire 35 minute interview did not “upload” to my Podcast host. If that description sounds confusing to you, don’t worry. It is not important, forge ahead.

I was playing it in the car so that another person could hear it. I felt they could benefit, so I had no qualms about playing it for them. The recording abruptly stopped after the person being interviewed told about being brought to her spiritual and emotional knees and how she responded. I was frustrated and really wanted the young woman to hear the entire interview.

I started the interview again in the hope that it was just an internet problem and that it would work the second time. We listened and it stopped again! When I arrived home I discovered that only half of the recording had, in fact, uploaded. I re-loaded the interview so that it would play in full when the time came.

Upon reflection, my passenger seemed to be touched by the “testimony” of the young woman in the interview… and she was able to hear it twice! It was no mistake. It was orchestrated by the Master. My inconvenience… His plan… so often the same event.

“All In” disciples of Jesus should never get in a “twist” over inconveniences. God is directing the traffic.

photo credit: Day 256/365 – Who needs a remote? via photopin (license)

Repurposed

She said, “I wish I was like I was at 16 again.” Many of us understand the challenge of coping with the changes marking our years. That may be especially true as the decades really begin to pile up.

We exchange our youth and vitality for experience, skills and wisdom. I did mention that we trade in our vitality, didn’t I? Yes, there it is. Our vitality and youth slipping away in the trade. Perhaps that is what is most noticeable… our dwindling youth and vitality.

We repurpose items all of the time. Have you ever wondered if any of those “repurposed” items wished they were still new? Of course you haven’t. But is that idea any more ridiculous than my wishing I was not being “repurposed?”

It is easy to be “All In” when my assignment is glitzy and glamorous. It can occasionally be more difficult when I am “repurposed.” The view from an outsider looking in can often see great value in my new purpose, even if I am rusty and my tires are flat. The new beauty may be because I am rusty and my tires are flat.

Being repurposed is only a problem if I insist on defining my purpose. I need to be at peace with what God chooses for me. Isn’t that the way this “All In” discipleship works?

The Unpredictable

I read recently that when something unusual happens, pay attention. God is doing something. I don’t know where I read it. If it was your blog, email or post please accept my apology for the lack of credits. I just do not remember.

Paying attention to what is happening, especially when it is out of the ordinary can present a huge challenge. We easily get transferred to our own agendas when life becomes predictable. We forget the encouragement James gave the refuges to say (actually say) if God wills I will do this or that. We just make our plans because, after all, things are predictable.

When the predictability fails we are likely caught with the “deer in the headlights” look wondering what just did (or did not) happen. If the whole “deer in the headlights” thing confuses any of my readers, just think of the expression on someone’s face at a paralyzing moment when facing the unexpected.

When the unexpected happens… Actually nothing unexpected can happen if we are walking through life assuming God is working and guiding events. We just deal with whatever He sends our way without getting anxious , flustered, or irritated. Having no expectations other than absolute confidence in God’s involvement is critical to experiencing the “Peace that passes understanding.” It has nothing to do with circumstances or results, only confidence in God’s involvement.

Be “All In” and pay attention when the unpredictable happens. God is doing something special.

photo credit: Unpredictable collaboration (detail) via photopin (license)