Archive for May, 2010

Life is such a blend.  The good, the bad, the indifferent all swirling together.  That has certainly been true for the past couple of weeks.  As we plan our missions trip for July to the Lewis House it has been joyful as the pieces fall into place.  We also are looking forward to a long trip that has come together by the grace of God (and many awesome christian family members and friends).  Enter the flu.  Enter family tensions.  Enter life milestones that we would just as soon forget.  Enter unexpected financial stress.  Enter allergy season.  As much as I try to keep my focus on the good and great things that God is doing in my life, sometimes I lose my balance in the swirl.

As it would happen through this time I have been reading Acts.  Talk about the swirl!  Pentecost and Healing/Threats and Persecution – Fellowship and Unity/Deception and Death – Salvation/Martyrdom – they all swirl through the story.  I think that it is all summed up in Paul’s defense before Agrippa:

So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.  First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.  That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me.  But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.  I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen- that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.  At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”    “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied, “What I am saying is true and reasonable.  The King is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him.  I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.  King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?  I know you do.  Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long- I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”  Acts 26:19-29

Acts is full of these speeches (I think that several of them may make their way here).  Peter, Paul, Stephen, all preaching their hearts and souls through the Spirit of God.  Paul here actually begins his defense in his past and follows the swirls through the sorrow of being on the wrong side of things, to the joy a relationship with Jesus to obedience in the midst of persecution.  He doesn’t give the detail of the beatings and imprisonments but they lie just under the surface of his words.  Then comes the big BUT…. “But I have had God’s help to this very day…”  Sometimes when I am caught in a swirl it seems that God’s help is far away but I can always look back and say “I have had God’s help to this very day.”   The response is to be expected.  “You are insane!”.  It hurts when it comes from the lost, but it really hurts when it comes from those that you think should understand.  Yet we see Paul’s heart and what should be ours, “Short time or long- I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”  And there is the kicker, as Paul is speaking he is standing before these two great men….in chains.   

Lord help me keep my eyes on the goal, on you, no matter how violent the swirls become!

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This message came to me several days ago.  I heard it but I wasn’t really listening.  As I often do when God lays a message on my heart I immediately wanted to get the message out.  I sat down I tried to compose this very blog.  Much to my frustration it just wouldn’t come together.  So I pushed it to the side and almost relegated to indigestion.    I had moved my eyes from the source to the message.  I had heard God, but I had not listened.  Several days later during a Bible Study when my body, soul and spirit was focused on Him, I received the clear “OK now” and shared this message with the group.  There was an immediate feeling of peace and fulfillment. It is in this process of hearing and listening that maturity comes.  One without the other leads to frustration, fear and even despair.  For me it has opened the door to a new season of growth in my walk with Him.  This is going to be a season of positioning myself to hear Him and focusing on His face to Listen.  It is going to be a season of speaking His word and reflecting His face.

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We hear the voice of God when We remain close to Him.  When we daily position our body, soul and spirit to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).  This is a discipline.  This is abiding.  This is foolishness to the World and Life to the Children of God.

We listen to Him  when we fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  I think of the song “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and cares of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”  Too often even when I have heard the voice of God, I did not listen.  The static of our lives and the world around us garbles the message.  I think of my children and how when I really want them got GET a set of instructions I make sure they are looking directly at my face.  Hearing is a matter of position, listening is a matter of focus.

Others will hear God’s voice when we have heard and listened AND spoken;  in words, in deeds and in LOVE!

They will listen when by the power of the Holy Spirit we reflect the face of Jesus in our Lives.

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