Having Done All, Stand

Some days are just hard. Sometime it’s weeks, months, or years that are difficult. That’s why Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God and stand. When we have done everything we possibly can in our own strength and can’t go on for another minute, God is there to keep us standing.

There are times when He miraculously resolves an issue we are facing but most times He chooses to walk us through it…and not around it.

Ephesians 6:13 says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.”  (The Message)

God has equipped us with all that we need to win every battle. When you feel that you are at the end of your strength remember that the source of your strength is limitless. God never runs our of strength so that means you won’t either. I like that part of the verse that says, “take all the help you can get.”  God has also put you in a community of believers who will stand with you in your most difficult times. Allow God to use them to help you stay standing. And when they are facing a battle, return the favor.

It’s Just a Mole Hill After All

You can find lessons from God in the most surprising places. And sometimes when you least expect it, God says something profound.

Over the weekend I went with the family to experience a night hike in a nature park near our home.  We arrived early enough to spend a few minutes with Cliff, who would be our guide on our walk through the dark woods in the middle of a very heavily populated part of Florida. Not much open space around here, unless it’s water. In fact, you wouldn’t even know the park was here unless you were looking for it. A well hidden secret.

God sometimes hides things from us too. Sometimes he makes us look for the treasures of this life. He doesn’t just hand things to us, we have to seek them out.  I wrote something about God’s hide and seek  a while back. If you’d like to read it you can do so here.

Before our hike, Cliff showed us some owls and other birds that are cared for at the park. We also saw peacocks which was a treat. We learned some interesting facts about some of God’s amazing creations.  Finally it got dark enough to head out on our walk. We meandered through the woods adjusting our eyes to the darkness as the sun set in the distance.  We arrived at a viewing dock over a small lake. As we spotted bats swooping in the air someone excitedly pointed out that we were being watched.  Sure enough. In the water, at just the right spot where the fading light was still reflecting off the water we saw an eye and a snout barely above the surface.  An alligator was quietly watching us.  We were in no danger but it was a little unnerving to feel him watching us.  I again marveled at the idea that there was so much hidden that could only be discovered by paying close attention.  God’s treasures were everywhere.

There was one point when we were walking along a boardwalk and I overheard a conversation between two of my grandchildren. Ian pointed beyond the railing and said, “look, there’s a monument.”     Annabelle, who had been listening to the guide, said, “that’s the storm sewer.” She was right, it was a concrete structure, perhaps two feet high, with a manhole cover on the top.  Ian shrugged and said, “well, to an ant it’s a sky scraper.”

When he said it I just thought it was a funny comment but as I’ve thought about it I realize that he was pointing out something I need to learn.

We often don’t realize that our perspective has everything to do with how we live our lives. From the ant’s perspective that structure truly was huge. But from our perspective it was nothing significant at all.

God has been trying recently to teach me this very thing.  The issues that I face sometimes appear like mountains that I can’t hope to get beyond. But from God’s perspective?

Nothing but a molehill.

Have you ever stepped on a molehill? They have no real substance at all. With the slightest bit of pressure they disappear, sinking into the ground where they came from.

If you ask Him, God will show you that some of things you think are mountains are really just molehills to Him too.

Mark 11:23  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

 

 

 

Last Weekend I Did Something I Haven’t Done in 40 Years

Forty years. A long time.  Lots of things have changed in 40 years.  I know I’ve changed. But even though we change, once in a while it’s fun to revisit the days of our youth. While I certainly wouldn’t want to go back and do it all over again, there’s a comfort about remembering for a little while.

On Friday night I went to a rock concert. The first and only other rock concert I ever went to was around 1976. I was in high school and went with some friends to see the Doobie Brothers at the basketball arena on the Ohio State Campus.  It was loud and there were people there who had obviously started their “happy” way before they arrived at the concert. The air was blue with smoke, some of which smelled a little too sweet.  I guess it was the right atmosphere for the band playing that night.  I remember enjoying the music and the people I was with but I didn’t come away feeling like I couldn’t wait for the next concert. In fact, I never went to anything like that again.

Fast forward to last Friday.  The groups playing were The Doobie Brothers and Journey. The tickets were a birthday gift for my husband who has always enjoyed Journey’s music. This time the concert was outside in an amphitheater that seated 20,000 people and was full to overflowing. We arrived early and as I watched the people coming in I wondered how many of them may have seen these groups back in the day as teenagers. The crowd was definitely on the old-ish side!

But, some things don’t change. The music was still loud ( I had wadded up tissues stuffed in my ears) and we still got a whiff of something a little too sweet in the air and there were still those folks who had obviously started their “happy” earlier as well. Although, this time some of their long hair was now quite gray.

I still enjoyed the experience. It was fun to share the memories that were brought to the surface that night.  But this time, with four decades behind me, I saw some things I never noticed before.  One especially strong observation was how many of the songs played described loneliness and heartbreak.  The lyrics were written from a place of searching, asking the question, “is this all there is?”

It was obvious that the folks in the audience were having a good time. It was fun to see a couple of ladies, probably ten years older than me, bobbing their heads and grinning at each other as they sang along. One woman was watching through opera glasses. I wondered how many of those people were also searching for something more.

As Journey was about half way into their set of songs, I could see the busses for the Doobie Brothers pulling out of the parking lot headed out to who knows where for their next gig.  I wondered if the lead singers have to ask before they go out on the stage, “what city are we in again?” so they don’t say “Hello, Tampa!” when they are really in Miami.

I couldn’t help but think as I watched those busses leaving, while listening to Journey singing, “Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world.  She took the midnight train  goin’ anywhere,” that it was so symbolic of the life most of the world is living.

So many lonely, hurting people. And we have the answer for them. We know the secret of peace and life.  It was a reminder that perhaps it’s time to slow down and pay more attention to those around me. There are so many people who need someone to share some hope with them. Could I set my agenda, my to-do list aside for a while and take time to look around me? Could I bring hope to someone else today? Could you?

Jesus is better than a rock concert.  But nobody will know it if we keep Him to ourselves.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 

 

In the Beginning, ‘Christian’ was a Noun

Back in the days written about in the book of Acts, the word Christian was a noun. It was what you were. It was who you were.

In our current culture the word Christian is tacked on the front end of almost everything.  You can be a Christian businessman, a Christian doctor, a Christian author, a Christian teacher, and on and on it goes.

But perhaps it would be a good idea to take a step back and see where the emphasis lies. Are you a doctor who happens to be a Christian? Or are you a Christian who happens to be a doctor?  Which is it? Which defines your life most accurately?

Acts 11:26 says, “and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse states the following.

Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples, that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his chief care to shape his life by Christ’s precepts and example. Hence it is plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it will give both the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other names and distinctions, and love one another as the followers of Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians, how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth would be like one large family, every member of which would strive to be dutiful and kind.”

The word Christian can be used as an adjective to describe other things. But isn’t it more important that it be a noun? Perhaps it would be best to focus on WHO we are first and then figure out WHAT we are later.