Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sometimes it's easy to miss the obvious...continued

The other day I shared how while I was studying the ground beneath my deer stand with a pair of binoculars, looking for tracks, a deer stepped into my field of view out of no where.  I had almost missed the obvious.

My attention was focused on a tiny patch of soil and because it was, the deer were able to move in from another direction and surprise me.  Is it possible we imagine God to be in the big stuff and so miss his presence in the little things?  Is it possible that we look for Him to sweep in and rescue us from difficulty when all along He is above us, sheltering us with His wings to see us THROUGH the storm?

The unescapable reality is that God is so much bigger than we could ever imagine and his love for us so perfect and complete that we cannot begin to fathom it's depths.

If God is in all things...and He is, then we do not have to study a patch of ground through binoculars to look for him.  We need to expect and confess that He is indeed there.  If we do not see Him it is our vision that is flawed and not His presence that is missing.  We need to learn to look through eyes of faith instead of binoculars.

If God loves us...and He does,  God's love for us is perfect, it is guided by His perfect wisdom.  We do not need to be anxious for what tomorrow holds.  Smooth sailing or rough seas, God is shaping us to be the person He can use.  God had not stopped loving Jonah while he was in the belly of the whale.

Don't miss the obvious.  God is within reach and He loves you with an EVERLASTING love.  We just need to look through eyes of faith to see Him and rest secure in His love no matter life's circumstances.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes it's easy to miss the obvious...

I was hunting this morning, I hunt most mornings during deer season, even if only for an hour.  I've seen plenty of deer this year but have not harvested any game yet.  It's not always about taking a shot.  I love the time in the woods, God's creation, the time to think and pray.  From my tree stand I can usually see deer coming from quite a ways off, I pride myself in knowing what to look for, a horizontal line in a forest of vertical, a flicker of white, the slightest movement.  I love being able to watch the deer without them ever knowing I'm there.

After the sun had been up for a while I decided to study a sandy spot just beneath my stand.  Tracks there will give a good indication as to the number, size and direction of the deer.  It had rained pretty good the day before so I knew any tracks would be fresh.  After taking a careful 360 degree look all around to make sure there wasn't anything coming, I turned my attention on the sandy area.  I couldn't see anything with the my naked eye so I decided to take a closer look using some binoculars.  As I studied the dirt just 15 yards away I was shocked to see a leg step into my field of view!  I slowly lowered the binoculars and sure enough there was a BIG doe and a yearling not 10 yards away from my tree.  How did that happen?

Sometimes the obvious can sneak up on us...or we can miss something altogether because we are to focused on something else.

I wonder if that is how Israel missed the Messiah they had been looking for.  Did tunnel vision and a preconceived notion of what He SHOULD look like blind them to his presence?  And before we get all high and mighty and imagine that we would never ever make the same mistake, is it possible we miss God sometimes for the same reason?  Check back to discover what God is teaching me about watching for him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Learned an important lesson today...

Sue and I went to our first Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, see post from September 7, 2011) celebration.  There were about 80 Russian speaking Jews in attendance.  Good food, russian folk music and dancing AND they decorated a sukkot, booth.

The celebration culminated in one of the men waving the lulav and etrog while reciting the customary blessing.  Before blessing the sukkot he gave a detailed explanation in both english and russian as to the meaning of the booth.  I will confess, I found myself wondering why he was explaining everything in such detail to "Russian Jews"?  They were Jewish after all, didn't they already know about the booth, the Lulav and Etrog?  Didn't they understand this important celebration of God's provision for His people during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness?

As he finished I found a coworker and asked, "Why explain to them what they most certainly already know?" and the answer, "They don't have a clue.  They are Russian and they are Jewish (in nationalistic heritage) but they are also atheists.  Who would have thought you would have to explain a very Jewish ceremony to a bunch of Jewish folks?

Which brings me to the "important lesson".  Never, never ever assume what the other person knows or doesn't know.  How many "good" people go to the grave without Christ because we just assumed?  They went to church, they talked the talk and walked the walk.  They carried a Bible, bowed their head before meals, never swore, lived a seemingly moral life...but without knowing Jesus.

Eternity is to important to leave to chance.  Unless they tell you they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ...assume they don't and respond accordingly.  Share the Good News someone once shared with you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I do not understand why...

I do not understand why,
     You are so willing to listen to me, when I so seldom listen for you.

I do not understand why,
     You take the time to speak to me, when I almost never make time to visit with you.

I do not understand why,
     You would want to come to me, when I am so reluctant to come to you.

I do not understand why,
     You are so patient with me, when I am in such a hurry when spending time with you.

I do not understand why, 
     You were so quick to love me, when I have been so slow to respond to that love.

I do not understand why,
     You so consistently forgive me, when I am so quick to disobey you.

I do not understand why, 
     You choose to use me in your plan, when apart from you I am so useless.

I do not understand why,
     You are so anxious to lift me up, when I am so quick to tear you down.

I do not understand why, 
     You were willing to die for me, when I have been so resistant to live for you.

I do not understand why,
     You would call me son, but I am thankful to be able to call you Father.

I do not understand why,
     You saved me from my sin, but I am grateful for your unending mercy.

I do not understand why,
     You have blessed me so abundantly, but I am grateful for your unmerited grace.

     If you think of others...feel free to post them as a comment...but don't look for an answer from me, cause I just don't really know all that much.  I'm sure there is MUCH more that I do not understand, but I am grateful that I belong to One who has ALL the answers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things I don't understand...

     Some say the beginning of wisdom is knowing what you don't know.  I like that, mostly because I think it means I am on the verge of becoming very wise.  Let me explain. 
     In elementary school, somewhere about 1st or 2nd grade, you realize how much "stuff" there is out there that you don't know and so you begin learning.  High school and teen years come along and you figure you've learned everything worth knowing and adults are just stupid for keeping track of so much "worthless" information.  Eventually, somewhere in your 20's, you hit a happy medium of feeling adequately intelligent coupled with the reality that there are things in this world that you don't know.
     However, as you get into your senior years, and self examination sets in, you realize just how much there is, that's important, that you don't have a clue about.  I've crossed into that life stage now.  I have significantly more questions than I do answers.  Oh, I still remember my times tables and I think I can go all the way to 12x12 in less than 3 minutes.  I know that WWII came AFTER WWI and I know who we were fighting.  It's the bigger less obvious stuff that has got me wondering now.

     Last night I gathered with almost 30 adults from our church to pray for our church.  It was an incredible time of blessing, brokeness, repentence, and claiming God's promises for His church.  We sat in a circle and went around the room.  I was about 20th in line to pray and while I tried to listen to what others were praying the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and I could not help but listen.

     What He kept saying, over and over again was, "You really don't know very much at all, do you?  BUT I do, so trust me."  Tomorrow I will share with you what the Holy Spirit told me I didn't know, be sure to check back to find out just how clueless I am...

Friday, October 7, 2011

And Now, for the rest of the story...

If you will recall the other day, I asked the question, "Why is it so hard to accept a gift?"  If you didn't see that post, scroll down and catch up before you proceed.

Here is how the rest of the conversation between myself and Mr. Levine went: 
     Mr. Levine:  Wait (now reaching for the basket and card) maybe it was meant for me...Levine is my    
          name and we do know Mr. & Mrs. John Doe. (significantly more likeable at this point)
     Me: Yes sir.
     Mr. Levine: Well that's really nice, to get a New Year gift. (hint of a smile now)
     Me:  Yes sir, and you didn't even have to have surgery to get it.  (handing over the basket and the card)
     Mr. Levine:  Yeah, no surgery. (big smile)
     Me:  Have a sweet and happy new year Mr. Levine, shalom...(walking away)
     Mr. Levine: (still standing staring at the basket and card) Yeah, thank you.

So why did he make it so hard, why did he almost give up the gift?  Two things come to mind.  Mr. Levine didn't understand the purpose of the gift or the motive of the giver.  Let's consider the gift first.

He wasn't expecting anything.  He was sure his neighbor was.  She had a greater need (recovery).  He imagined, "my need is not as great."  So, because he misunderstood the gift he almost missed it.  Secondly he misunderstood the motive of the giver.

I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that part of Mr. Levine's reluctance was because he imagined that he was gonna owe someone something for this gift that wasn't even his.  Nobody gives anything away was the message I got from him.  Now for the application.

I wonder how many people reject the cross because they either don't understand the gift or the motive of the giver...or both?

Be assured of this, the cross has no greater purpose than to make you "right" or innocent before a Holy God.  Jesus died in your place that you might be redeemed, purchased, from slavery to sin, to freedom in Him.

Be assured of this as well, the giver, God Himself, is motivated by His great love for you.  There is no hidden agenda, no trick.  You don't have to be good enough, have the right last name or belong to a certain church.  His goal is an eternal, personal love relationship with you...His child.

The choice is yours and it is simple.  Accept WHAT has been done for you and WHY He did it for you or reject it and in so doing commit to an eternity apart from the one who loves you more than any other.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why is it so hard?

Why do we find it so hard to accept a gift, especially a gift with no strings attached?  I was delivering Shalom Baskets, baskets filled with goodies and a wish for a sweet and happy Jewish New Year, in Atlanta last month.  The baskets are purchased through the Light of Messiah website for the purchasers Jewish friends.  Volunteers deliver them just before Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.  All of my baskets were delivered without a hitch until the last one.  Mr. & Mrs. Doe had purchased a basket for their friends Mr. & Mrs. Levine (names have been changed to protect their privacy).  Here is how the meeting went after I rang the doorbell.

     Mr. Levine:  You've got the wrong house. (straight face, no emotion)
     Me: Are you Mr. John Levine?
     Mr. Levine:  Yes, but you've still got the wrong house. (slight bit of frustration in his voice)
     Me: Do you know a Mr. and Mrs. John Doe?
     Mr. Levine:  Yes, but I am sure you have the wrong house. (getting more frustrated, with me I assume)
     Me: Mr. Levine I am very sorry to have disturbed you, I was just going by...(trying to calm him down)
     Mr. Levine:  The lady next door had surgery yesterday, I am sure that is where you mean to be.
     Me: Actually this basket is not a get well basket, it was meant to wish someone, I thought you, a sweet and 
          happy new year, Rosh Hashana is right around the corner.  I am very sorry to have disturbed you, have a      
          good day...(turning to walk away)
Why was Mr. Levine so reluctant to accept a free gift?  I had his name right, I had his friends name right, I showed him the card with the correct address, HIS address on it.  So why didn't he want to accept it?

Check back to see how the story ends and my thoughts on his reluctance.