The Problem With Submission…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” -James 4:7-8

I have a tough time with one word in this passage.
It has nothing to do with God, faith or salvation…it has everything to do with how this word is used in the world, sometimes maliciously, in order to put people in their place.

What is the word?

“Submit”.

I don’t do well with submission.
Honestly, it makes me feel like a prisoner having to obey the warden. (Images of Shawshank Redemption come to mind)…

Perhaps it is because I have personally witnessed that word being used and abused.
Perhaps it is because I struggle with my own need for freedom.
Regardless of the why, there is still the issue with the how…how do I submit…and the ‘who’ – who am I to submit to?

For some of us it is the trust involved in such an act.
Questions like, “what if my trust is betrayed”, and “can I really trust them”?
Many time it isn’t even about submitting to God, but rather authority figures in our own lives; Bosses, business advisors, managers, family members…etc. Then, when we have been burned by submitting to a faulty human-led system, we transplant this disappointment and disillusionment upon God…as if He too is imperfect and will let us down.

I too have struggled with this notion, meanwhile transplanting my own mortal experience upon an immortal God. But have I short changed God when I’ve done this? Do I still struggle with these trust issues? Can I fully submit to God in spite of my past hurts and the numerous failed dumpster fires of attempted human submission?

Maybe I’m overthinking this…have you ever done that?
I’ve counted all of the variables, outcomes, pros and cons way before ever taking a step. My 1st Grade Teacher’s voice keeps ringing in my ear as she said, “look before you leap.” But maybe in this case, it’s the other way round?! Perhaps I just have to go for it and place my all before God when I do.

In James 4:7-8, perhaps it’s more about coming near to God than it is about submitting to Him…because wouldn’t we naturally do that anyway when we really, really know someone? After all, didn’t God come close to us first when He sent Jesus into this messed up world? He met us more than halfway as He hung on a cross for our sins.

You see, I know all of the theological implications of such an act. I know Jesus intellectually, but are there still times when my heart does not know Him…when I’m not near to God, in fact, I couldn’t be further from Him? Have you ever felt like that? We have all of the head knowledge, but when it really comes down to it, there’s a heart issue that still needs working out.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re still trying to reconcile what submission looks like with God. I’ve been on this journey for quite some time, and I feel that the Holy Spirit has led me this far, I’m going to have trust Him in the things I have yet to figure out. He hasn’t given up on me, and I’m positive He certainly hasn’t given up on you either. Perhaps it’s not so much submission that He’s after, but rather a closer relationship with us. After all, doesn’t submission come from a place of trust? I cannot submit to something I don’t trust, and I cannot trust if I don’t come close enough to God.

The trouble with submission is we aren’t close enough to a God who desires a relationship with us…and I’m still working through this. I don’t have a Mary Poppins answer for you, just a notion and a nudge to deepen your relationship with the Almighty…we just might discover that is what was needed all along.

-Something more to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, The Fish-Bowl Effect…

Dear Salvation Army, are we fooling ourselves?
Are we seeing one thing within our ivory towers while the reality looks quite different?

Please don’t take offense.
I mean no disrespect.
I just wonder if there are times that we are disconnected from how things truly are as opposed to how we perceive them to be.

It’s like the notion of missing the mark of evangelism & missions…It is like aiming for the lost with a harpoon when what you needed was a loving hug and a warm cup of coffee. Or perhaps, there is this grandiose idea of what success will look like (we envision a mega church with people all neatly lined up trying to get in) when in reality it is meeting with that single mother and ensuring she has enough to feed her family and she takes the leap of coming to church on a Sunday morning.

Do we miss the mark because our notion of successful mission has been aligned with a faulty or unrealistic sense of who we are serving and what they need? It can become that illustration of insanity, ever endeavoring to do the same thing over and over again, only to realize that it hasn’t worked in thirty years.

Perhaps we need to wake up.
I fear we have become too insulated in our own fishbowls, be it the corps, divisional headquarters, territorial headquarters or beyond. We cannot sit in our offices and expect the people to come to us. Yes, our branding is recognizable, but that doesn’t mean that we become lazy in our planning and in the reaching for the lost, hurting and oppressed. We cannot afford to sit in our fishbowls. We cannot become complacent, overly busy with interior paperwork, when outside in our communities families and individuals need to see the hope that the Holy Spirit is prodding us to give because we serve more than just an Army, we serve the Lord first and foremost.

Dear Salvation Army,
I am fearful that we have lost our way, because of mission drift.
I am fearful that leaders from every rank have forgotten what it means to have a heart to God and a hand to man. This is a broad brushstroke, not aimed at offending, but perhaps prodding those who need it. There are many, many saints in our Army. I wish to recognize that as fact, may we ever endeavor to emulate their great faith!

Lastly, we cannot program our army to death.
We cannot course correct without first dispelling the faulty realities that have gotten us to this point.

Questions to Ponder:
What fishbowls do we need to get out of today?
Do we truly know the communities and people that we have been commissioned to minister to?
Have we prayed about our mission and vision for the lost in our areas of influence? (Not all of these places will look the same, or require the same kinds of ministry tools to reach the lost and disciple the faithful).
How can we (I) encourage 1 person today (maybe more, but start with just one)?
Can we pray that God would reveal to us the hindrances and hang ups in our lives right now that prevent us from having a greater impact on the Kingdom in His name?

As I sit here and write this, I admittedly have first considered the fishbowls that I have placed myself in. No, this has nothing to do with appointments or rank, but as a follower of Christ there are walls that I have constructed that have not been ordained by Him. Constructs that insulate my selfish heart and profit nothing for the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps you can relate, dear Soldier. I believe that if we do not first dispel these walls and climb out of our fishbowls, so too will our impact for the Kingdom be limited.

Can we identify these fishbowls?
Are we prepared to climb out of them?

Something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Devotional Pondering – “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you!”

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.” 
Hebrews: 12:4-10 (The Message) 

No likes to be disciplined.
I remember as a kid getting in trouble with my mother and she sent me to my room.  Then she said that horrifying phrase: “Wait until in your room until your father gets home!”  I remember sitting there on my bed, empty pit of a stomach just dreading the punishment that I knew I had coming to me.  I contemplated many things while waiting.  I thought of the various phrases I would say like, “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t mean it“, or “I’ll never do that again!“…they all sounded hollow and empty.  Humorously (not then though) I also contemplated things about my punishment, like “how many books can I put in my underwear without my father noticing so that my spanking won’t hurt?”  I was very dramatic then.  

No one likes to be disciplined.  I didn’t then and I still don’t enjoy the moments when it happens today.  

Wait until your Heavenly Father gets home!
God has a way of shifting us from our own private spaces of ignorance and sin into correction and discipline.  It hurts.  It’s not fun.  It is most certainly not enjoyable and yet it needs to take place.  

Just as a parent disciplines and shapes a child so that when they grow up they have learned their lessons and are good people, so too God disciplines us (His Holy Children).  Did you know that you’re a child of God?  He loves us so deeply and He longs for us to grow up as health and strong righteous men and women who are worthy of being called HIS!

Sometimes He disciplines through the words of a friend or an elder.  These truthful words can be painful to hear and they strike directly at the heart.  But these moments are never to wound us or harm us, they are for our correction and growth.  

There’s something about  a Rose Bush:

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In order for a rose bush to grow the next season following autumn and winter is for the gardener to prune and cut it back.  So the gardener cuts the branches and the excess away despite the sharp thrones this plant is beautiful and magnificent when it blooms.  The gardener knows this and so takes great care to cut just enough away in order to make room for the rose bush to grow again.  When the next season comes around the rose bush thrives in the sunshine and the rich soil that the gardener has placed it in, and because of the pruning process it flourishes and grows even more beautiful.  Soon roses bloom in full and the scent of its aroma fills the air and many people come and admire the beauty of this rose bush.

Stand firm in your pruning!  

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 I believe that God is not done with us yet!  There is still more to prune from us.  Sometimes the pruning process is painful.  Sometimes there will be tears as He corrects us, but He does this so that we will bloom and grow until we are Holy just as Christ is Holy.  When we allow stand firm and allow Him to prune us through His discipline we are able to flourish and produce the kind of love that has a sweet aroma of God.  Without the pruning process in our lives, we cannot grow, we will be stunted and limited in this life.  

Discipline hurts for but a moment and then when we allow it, God brings to us peace of His presence and the assurance that we can bloom and grow in His holiness.  

 

 

Questions to consider:

 

What pruning has God done in your life so far?
What is He teaching you through this discipline?
What still needs to be pruned?
Are you willing to stand firm amidst His loving correction? 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for loving me so much that you seek to discipline and correct me.  Forgive me when I have been stubborn and refused your correction on my life.  Show me what your holiness looks like in me and how I must change and surrender that which stunts my growth in you.  -Amen.  

Devotional Pondering: Death, Lions, Stinky Dark Pits & Prayer.

Don’t mess with nature.”  This phrase is so true.  Many people have gone out into nature, whether on the plains of the Serengeti or in the vast expanse of the ocean or else where, without respect for the elements and the wildness of nature and have paid for it.  Nature is wild.  Nature is fierce.  Nature is hungry.  

…so are lions. 

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We all know the story of “Daniel and the Lion’s den’.  We’ve heard it in Sunday School or at a Vacation Bible School some where (maybe long ago) in our childhood.  I want to re-examine that story today.  I’ve been pondering something in my heart, and I feel the Lord has led me to this passage once more.  

The narrative is found in Daniel chapter 6.  Perhaps you would like to take some time and read it again for yourself.  

Here’s the context: Daniel (a prophet and servant of God) is an official in the Persian empire under King Darius.  In those days Kings of Persia were considered gods.  No one would dare defy an edict of the king, for to do so would mean that they defied the very gods the Persians worshiped.  

But…Daniel served God, the only God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Despite the tricks of others who had been appointed to serve under the king to trap Daniel, Daniel never wavered or faltered.  Daniel chapter six describes what kind of man Daniel was –

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

Did you catch that?  
Despite outward pressure to conform, Daniel did what he always did – He prayed.  He went upstairs, faced Jerusalem and prayed to God.  

How Serious Is Prayer to Us? 

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Daniel, despite a death sentence, continued to talk to his heavenly Father.  Our conversations with God ought to be like breathing to us.  It is vital.  It is imperative.  It connects us to the only certain, consistent, true power in the universe.  God loves it when we talk to Him.  In fact in the very beginning of time scripture records that He would physically come down and walk with Adam and Eve in the evenings…He wants to fellowship with us.  Prayer connects us to His fellowship and His love.  Prayer is serious business.  It ought not be taken lightly.  God doesn’t need a lot of “religious jargon” or flowery words to accompany our prayers.  They can be simple.  They should be honest.  They should be sincere.  Our prayers to Him are not prayers to a Genie in a bottle, or a litany of wish lists that we want from God.  He wants us to share with Him our lives, our concerns – both the large and small concerns…even the lions prowling around us ready to consume us.  

What are your Lions?

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Daniel was thrown into a dark, smelly pit that contained wild, blood thirsty lions.  He was all alone in that frightening situation.  All around him, in the inky darkness, prowled a fierce predator of nature.  Scripture doesn’t record Daniel screaming for his life.  The bible doesn’t record Daniel confessing his regret for defying King Darius’ edict – no!  Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions (a death sentence) and despite all odds, he continued to pray to God.  

What kind of lions are you facing today in your life?  What kind of pressures are you under?  Many within our world want Christians to buckle under these pressures, the father of lies Satan himself would love nothing more than for people of God to disobey and turn away from God.  The easy path in the midst of our lions is to conform to the world around us.  The easy path is to look, dress and act like everyone else around us…to fit in, to party it up, to do whatever pleases us.  But if we do, we will be consumed by the lions and we will be lost.  

That night, in the blood thirsty lion pit, a miracle happened.  God closed the mouths of the lions because a faithful servant of His needed saving.   

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”  The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” -Daniel 6:22-23

Whatever lions you may be facing right now in your life, God says to us – “have faith in Me and have no fear!”  
1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”  
Are you facing wild, fierce pressures around you today?  Be bold, be strong and stand firm!  God will always be with you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me today to face my lions.  Forgive me when I have wavered and have given into the pressures of the world. Strength and equip me for today and help me to be Your faithful servant despite the prowling lions and looming pressures.  I long to be Yours and Yours alone!  -Amen.  

Something else to ponder today!  

Are Your Robes Clean Or Is It Laundry Day?

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Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves the practices of falsehood.” Revelation 22: 14-15

There’s a blessing and a curse within this passage.  

Blessing: to those who have been cleaned they are blessed with entrance into the city (the new Jerusalem).  
Curse: to those who have not been cleaned and have embraced the practices of falsehood they are cursed with being an “outsider” and are barred from entrance into the city.  

These are the words of an post-ascended Jesus spoken to John in his vision of what is to come.  Recently I taught the book of Revelation in our bible study class and we went through each chapter together.  This wasn’t some sort of theological teaching of eschatological theories and dispensationalism.  This was a study of what is written within this book.  This was a look into what we understand and what we do not understand.  It was also understood that it is okay to acknowledge that we don’t have to comprehend everything in the text to understand what Christ is and will be doing at the end of all things…and at the restart/beginning of all things. Salvation and justice will be handed to out to us all.  Reward and punishment, blessings and curses.  His reign will be absolute in that there will be no question of who He is and will be for all time.  His city will shine because God will be at the center providing light and love.  The vision of John is both glorious and too majestic to fathom.  We cannot grasp it all.  Yet His wonder and might will be all consuming and powerful.  

“Behold I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:7)
 This isn’t some billboard or poster board written by a street preacher who is screaming through a bullhorn and attempting to scare the hell out of people (Sorry if I offend you with that, but isn’t that their purpose?).  These words of Jesus aren’t supposed to be interpreted as horrifying and foreboding, yet many times that is exactly how people use them.  This isn’t some catch phrase to a horror movie.  These words should be read and interpreted with loving expectation and with a heart of preparation.  Jesus doesn’t say these words to scare us but rather prepare us.  In the Apostle John’s day these words would have evoked in the listener (the early Church) a sense of longing and hope in a world of fear, evil and Roman oppression.  To us, we should see Jesus’ words as not just a warning of His return but of a time to prepare our hearts, souls and minds for Him.  

Direct Questions: 

 

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How is your heart today?  Is there peace in your heart and life because you have a relationship with Jesus?  Are you in a good place spiritually?  What things still need to be surrendered to Him today?  The Holy Spirit still works within us to prepare us and to “cleanse our robes”.  Are you willing to surrender every nook and cranny of your soul?  Jesus doesn’t want to rent a room in your heart, He wants you all to Himself.  He longs for this right relationship with us, and we must decide how full our surrender to Him will be. 

I want blessings not curses.
I want His presence, not the “outsiders” view of the city.
I want to be completely His, not an ‘on again, off again’ relationship.
Is this your desire?  

Chorus and Prayer: 

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If on my soul a trace of sin remaineth,
If on my hands a stain may yet be seen,
If one dark spot a weary soul retaineth,
O wash me, Lord, that every part be clean;
For I would live that men may see thyself in me,
I would in faith ascend thy holy hill
And, with my thoughts in tune with thy divinity,
Would learn how best to do thy holy will.

Be Blessed today, not cursed!

-Just something more to ponder.-

“Lord, I love you THIS much!”

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) 

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Hey Dad guess what“, my son Ethan said as he looked at me with his ocean blue eyes and mischievous smirk.   Okay, I’ll bite, I thought to myself as I smiled back at him.  “What Ethan?”  I asked.  Seeing I had taken the bait, Ethan’s eyes lit up and his smirk broke out into a full smile as he quickly replied rather loudly “I LOVE YOU!” 

It is a game that we like to play.  We attempt to catch each other off guard with a simple question like “Guess what?”  As far as I can remember my Grandfather started this game and it is still going on today.  Truth be told, Ethan is rather good at it and at times he blindsides me with his spontaneous expressions of love.  

-Expressions of love-

What do our expressions of love look like when it comes to our Heavenly Father?  Does He receive our “first fruits” of love or just the left-overs?  When asked about the commandments and which was the most important, Jesus said “The most important one is this:…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31) 

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Do we understand realistically how important our love for God truly is?  Without this “first love” as our reference point all other ‘loves’ (including people) cannot be fully realized!  Jesus doesn’t just say “love God” but He goes on to say “With all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (it is known as the Shema or “hear”).  In other words our expressions of love to God and the way we express THAT love is to be all or nothing.  This love is to be complete or completely useless.  Jesus’ usage of the word “ALL” means we must employ EVERYTHING in order to express our love to God.  From that love relationship with and to God, we can then begin to love those around us even those who we have deemed ‘unlovable’.  

How much? 

How much do we love the Lord our God?  How much have we expressed that love to Him?
Are we holding anything back?  Are we giving Him our first fruits of love?  
Can we say to the Lord: “Guess what? Lord, I love you THIS much!” as our arms are outstretched as far as they can possibly go?  
The depth of our expressions of love to God will determine the depth of love that we are able to show to those around us.  How is your love today?  

-Just something more to ponder.  

a simple truth: I need to let go

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I looked at my reflection in the screen of my ipad, it was a dark murky shape.  I couldn’t distinguish any specific features.  My head was only represented as a dark blobbed mass on the screen.  My eyes…indiscernible.  What I could see though, was the evidence of heavy use.  This device had been run through the mill.  My children had downloaded a boatload of “apps”, some including baby dress-up games, makeup games, car racing games and galactic alien invasion games as well.  Fingerprints painted the screen through heavy use like a paintbrush transplanting color onto a blank canvas.  

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As I stared at the blank – fingerprinted graffiti-ed screen, a moment of clarity (which clearly wasn’t evident on this screen of hard-use) occurred to me:  

Epiphany – (maybe a momentary Theophany…right Phil Davisson?) 

My life is like this tablet’s screen.  Sometimes, when I allow my life to be used, the fingerprints of God are painted all over my screen.  In the background there is a garbled image…a shadow of a man.  Yet when I let God use me as He wills, my life becomes vibrant, the screen comes alive and suddenly the light is on…I can finally see.  As this momentary epiphany occurred, then evaporated like wisps of vapor, a question began to take shape in my mind…and heart.  

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Question: “How often do I clutch onto my life and refuse God access?”  
Somewhere in a small corner of my heart a response came.  It was faint.  It was quiet.  It was truth. 
“Scott, you do this often!  Why are you so afraid of me?”  

Call it what you will.  Chalk it up to an active imagination…an overworked, tired mind.  

But I know what I heard.  
I recognized the truth…even though it hurt.  I had been holding back.  I had be tightly clutching onto my feeble existence, holding it like a treasure to share with no one.  

Are you clutching onto your life?  Are you refusing God access? 
Or are there fingerprints of God all over your life?  Are there signs of holy use?

Please don’t let me think that I’m alone in this.  How long have I withheld myself from Him?  How long have I been tightly clutching onto something that God wants to use and make better?  

It was a simple moment…it was a silly electronic device that will probably be obsolete in a matter of two years…yet a simple truth seeped into my heart.  And words formed on my dry tongue: “Lord use me…Here I am…Take all there is of me.”  

I still clutch sometimes.  
I still refuse to let go at times.
I’m not there yet…but that simple moment has made all of the difference to my heart, soul, and mind. 

Are YOU ready to let go?  

“The God that never lets go!”

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“I was taking the kids to school”

I was listening to music on the radio as I was dropping my children off at school this morning.  Minding my own business, when God decided to pop in for a visit.  Perhaps it had been a while.  Perhaps, if this was a time for confessions I might admit to getting caught up in work and other things…perhaps.

Isn’t it funny how God can speak to us in so many different ways?  We can go to an art gallery and suddenly a painting of flowers will strike a chord in our hearts and we would know that God had something to do with it.  Or perhaps we see God in other people as the driver just ahead of you casually pays for your toll as well…God was there.  Or even in the midst of utter despair, pain, hurt, loss, we might read something that gently and quietly reminds us that God is present with us.  He is here with you now as you read this…do you believe that?  I do.  His presence is with us always, even to the ends of the earth, even when all hell breaks loose around us, even when we are blind to His passing…He is there!

…back to the music on the radio…

I was sitting in my van and two songs back to back touch my heart in a way that I couldn’t deny His presence there.  The first was a song by Mumford and Sons called “Below my feet”.  It wasn’t so much the entire song but the refrain that captured my heart for a moment:

” Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn”

As I heard those words I pondered that last sentence; “Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn”…but I said it like a prayer to the Lord.  Lord, keep my eyes to serve and my hands to learn…. I didn’t lose control of the vehicle but I could feel His presence there and I may as well have been in church.

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“I may as well have been in church!”

The very next song that came on was a song by the David Crowder Band called “You never let go”.  Its words go like this:

When clouds veil the sun and disaster comes
Oh my soul, oh my soul
When waters rise and hope takes flight
Oh my soul, oh my soul, oh my soul

Ever faithful, ever true
You, I know, You never let go

You never let go, You never let go
You never let go
You never let go, You never let go
You never let go

When clouds brought rain and disaster came
Oh my soul, oh my soul
When waters rose and hope had flown
Oh my soul, oh my soul, oh my soul

Ever faithful, ever true
You, I know, You never let go

I was in church in my van…God was very present.  He reminded me of just how important it is to not only serve Him but to always look for Him in every moment of my day.  He’s here right now wanting so desperately to fellowship and commune with you and me.  And His promise to us is that He will never let go.

-Both songs will be linked below.

Just a thought for today.

Stop Giving Dirty Diapers to God!

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“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
― John Lennon

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I was driving down the road when I saw it.  It was a purple bill board.  It was the color that first caught my eye (someone please pay that advertising genius).  As I got closer and adjusted my “old man” eyes I read what the sign said, “Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, we all worship TV.”   Perhaps the advertisers were just trying to unify us by saying we all worshiped something together, but it just didn’t sit well with me.  I drove past that bill board but in a way I was still staring at it for the next ten miles.  Something felt sinking in my heart…was it really true?  Do we worship the television?

What is the definition of an “Idol”?

i·dol
ˈīdl/
noun
noun: idol; plural noun: idols
  1. 1.

    an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
    synonyms: icon, representation of a god, imageeffigystatuefigurefigurine,fetishtotem; More

    Here’s another definition – an Idol is whatever you allow to take up and consume all of your time.  How much time do we spend in church?  Maybe four – seven hours a week (if you don’t work there).  How much time do you spend in front of the television or perhaps the tablet device/computer screen?  I would venture a guess that for the most part the hours spent here would out number the hours spent at church.  But church isn’t the only place to find God is it?  I mean we all own bibles don’t we?  How many hours a day or even a week do we spend reading its pages?

    What is consuming your time?  Some might say, “well my family takes up a lot of it“, while others might say, “I work sixty hour weeks” and I certainly don’t want to sound as if I’m condemning any of that.  It just hit me driving by that big purple bill board how little time I sometimes actually-physically give to God.  Not just at work, but as a devoted lover and follower of God.

    “Here God – take my left-overs”

    It’s almost as if I’ve been saying to God, “You stay home while I go to work, I’ll be back in like eight hours…see ya!”  or “Well God I’ve got more pressing things to do today, I have to catch up on all of my DVR’d shows, we’ll talk some other time”.  God doesn’t have an on/off switch.  He isn’t some toy you place on a shelf and only take Him down when you feel like it.  God desires from us real and genuine fellowship, not our left-overs.

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    “CAIN & ABEL” 

    Do you remember Cain and Abel? (Read Genesis 4 again)  Sure we remember that Cain kills his brother, but why?  Because he was jealous of how he was blessed by God.  But why was he blessed by God?  Because Abel honored God with the first fruits and not his left-overs.  Cain honored God with the scraps of his left-overs, the less desired cuts from his crops, while he feasted on prime rib of the land.  Abel set apart the best of the best for God and then used the rest.

    You see there’s an application here.  Are you ABEL (pun intended) to give God the best of the best first?  For far too long I’ve been giving Him my left-overs.  I’ve been giving Him my after thoughts, my junk…my dirty diapers, and I’ve been thinking that’s good enough.  WELL IT ISN’T!   God didn’t send down some second rate half-wit of an angel to save us did He?  No way!  He sent us His best.  He sent us His Son to save us from sin and death.  God doesn’t want our scraps…He wants genuine fellowship with us.  He wants us to set apart our hearts first for Him and then for others…then for our self.  Be we get that backwards sometimesa lot of times…most of the time.

    Stop giving God your dirty diapers, your rubbish, your “good enoughs”.  Only your best will do!  Maybe it’s time to turn off the television for while, or put down that novel.  Maybe it’s time to let God consume you instead of you consuming stuff and work and play.  Are you prepared to give God your best instead of the rest of the left-overs and the dirty diapers?

    -Just a thought to consider.

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    “But I do know we’re deficient in some way. We are too involved in materialistic things, and they don’t satisfy us. The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted.”
    ― Mitch AlbomTuesdays With Morrie

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