Not Joseph

I hear the testimonies…

People who were put in hard situations and remained faithful.  Diamonds forged by the pressures of adversity.  Gold refined by the fire of tribulation.

Yeah, that’s not me.

I came to Jesus from difficulty.  Truly encountered him and have seen my response to betrayal, illness, fears and sorrows.  And I always choose wrong.

In one sense, though many things are going so well, I feel the desert around me.  And I’ve still been choosing fear and bitterness, depression and anger.

In the comparison with Joseph’s life, I’m the guy that slept with the wife and probably got impaled (did they have worse executions).  If facing the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I’m the coward crawling on the floor, worshiping the lie of another god.

Yet God chose me, and not only did He choose me, He is still choosing me.

And He didn’t choose me to just get me out of hell.  He chose me for a purpose, a calling, something amazing.

What amazes me even more is that He walks with me!  Not sidestepping when I fall in the faeces.  Not waiting for me to clean myself off.  He is with me every step, in every pit, never letting go of me.

So that leads me to today.  Another day to choose.  Another day to live.

He’s not giving up on me.

Maybe I won’t either.

Hard to tell since I’m not Joseph…

I think I just heard someone rattling some keys…..

Maybe it’s the baker and the cupbearer…

 

Needing encouragement?  Check out Cory Asbury and any of his music!

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Trying

I love working with my son.

Mind you, he drives me crazy sometimes.  It’s possible that I drive him crazy, too.  But, I doubt it.

We were working on reflooring the one bathroom in our house.  After tearing up the old flooring, we both looked at the bare wood before us and then glanced at each other as if to say, “what do we do now?”

“Have you ever done this before?”  Nope!  Neither one of us had done that type of flooring.  And so we walked away from it.

A day later, I put in the floor and put in the new toilet.

Here’s a secret that most people that do remodeling won’t tell you.  We haven’t always done or ever done what you might want us to do.  What you are asking for probably could be done by you almost as well as it can be done by me.  The only difference between us is that I will try it.  Most of what I have learned, I learned first by doing it wrong.

I still make mistakes.  If you look closely, you will see imperfections in most of what I do still to this day.

That’s ok.

And it’s ok in life too.

Most of the experts we praise in life still make huge mistakes.  They are flawed.  They fail.

It just doesn’t stop them.

So, are you looking at something that God wants you to do?  Are you seeing something in front of you that you know is doomed to failure, simply because your hand is in it?  Are you afraid of your future?

Yeah, I’m not actually talking to you right now.  I’m talking to me.

Feel free to listen in.

Jump.

Fly.

Try….

Sitting, Running, Giving

The bible makes me laugh so much of the time….

Many of us have read or heard the story about Jesus feeding the five-thousand.  For those who haven’t, check out John 6.  The story is in Matthew, Mark and Luke also if you want to compare.

Anyhoo…

The people gather, they want something to eat and three types emerge.

There were five thousand men plus women and children.  Those aren’t the three types.  It tells how the Lord told them to sit down.  So the men sat.  The fact that we don’t hear about the women sitting is what makes me laugh.

We’ve all been there.  The guys sit down to watch the game while the children are climbing the walls, causing trouble.  The moms are running around after them saying, “put that down, quit hitting your brother, don’t eat that…”

So there were three groups, the ones sitting, the ones running.  But, then there was Jesus and by association, his disciples.  They were giving.

I have been the one sitting.  Waiting for something amazing to happen.  Looking for God to move so that I can see for myself that He is real.  Not lifting a finger except to put food in my mouth.

I have been the one running.  Chasing my tail.  Busy with so many things, so many good things.  Mainly just running.

I want to be someone that is giving.  Giving Jesus the little that I have, all that is me.  Letting Him break it and bless it.  And then giving to those that God puts in my life.

It’s easy to get caught up in sleeping, apathy, checking out.  Just as easy to be caught in the race to prove myself, to follow the chaos, chasing dreams that evaporate before I can put my hand on them.

But nothing compares to being a vessel.  Being the one that God calls to touch and bless others.

Victory

I heard God speak to me this morning.  Well, I didn’t hear an audible voice, though I’m not opposed to the idea.  I just heard Him speak to my heart.

Galatians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine…”

I have often prayed for victory, victory over addiction, victory over depression, victory over anger.

Today, God spoke to me about how low my sites have been set.

See, He said He could do better than I can even imagine.  And not a little better!  He said He could do A LOT better than I can ever ask for.

I think He would like to have me ask big, dream big, live big in victory.  Then He could do more than I ask, more than I dream.  He could make my life more than what I’ve ever hoped for.

For me I think that looks like not praying to lose weight but praying that God uses me to breathe life into those who are insecure, who see themselves as something less than how God sees them.  It looks like not praying for victory over lust but praying for the freedom of all those in bondage, praying that my life and witness would be used to break the chains of any addiction.  It looks like not praying that my family would be safe and loving but that my family would burn with such a passion for Jesus that the gates of Hell would tremble when we walk into the darkness.

I can say that I’m afraid of what prayers like that would bring.

I’m going to pray anyway.

Why 5?

Numbers have significance in the bible.  Consider particularly 3 (Jesus inner circle), 6 (number of man), 7 (days of creation).

I was reading today about the parable of the ten virgins.  For those of you who don’t know the story, it is a parable that Jesus told about women who were waiting for the bridegroom to come for his wedding.  Others have discussed the significance of the whole story.

I’m different (have we established this already?).

I got stuck on the fact that there were five wise virgins and five foolish.  And I couldn’t get it.  Why five of each?  Why wouldn’t the five wise ones share with the five foolish?  Sure, not their problem but shouldn’t we help each other out?

And why have I waited so long to write anything and this is what I feel compelled to share?

The reality is, I struggle.  I feel inadequate and stupid.  No way could God use someone like me.  And this January, as I start again on a new year and new possibilities, this story is bugging me.

At least from what I can understand from the story, they are all virgins, all have a lamp and all initially have oil in their lamps.  I’m pretty sure that would translate into them all being Christians (story applies to males and females).  This is a story that has been used, since it was first used, to warn us to always be prepared for Jesus return.  Traditionally the oil in the lamps was equated to the good things you’ve done, the character qualities that had been developed over your lifetime.

Bottom line, if you don’t have enough, you get rejected.

I don’t know about you, but as I start this new year, I know I don’t have enough.  Not of one thing.  Not love or holiness or faithfulness.  Not goodness, prayerfulness, passion for God’s word.  Nothing.

But the word of God looks at oil differently.  When you see oil used in the Bible it signifies grace, favor, the Holy Spirit, God’s presence.  The same thing that the number five signifies.

These are things that we can’t accumulate like awards, but things we bathe ourselves in, things that our poured out over us.

So in the end, it is a matter of accepting what a loving Father would lavish on me, not what I can do for myself.

Instead of trying to borrow the joy and relationship with God that others experience.  I just rest in His grace, His favor, His presence.

I think I can live with that.

You Owe Me

I’m sitting in a hospital room right now.  My injured son lying in a bed very close to me.

I have spent many years angry and disappointed because opportunities have been missed, people didn’t see me.  I’ve wanted to do so many things but I just never got the chance.  I’ve been angry at God and frustrated with people.

And here I sit…

Does God owe me the opportunity to demonstrate my greatness?  Ever?

Is God obligated to give me a stage?  Let me perform?  Make people listen?

I’m sitting here and wondering why I ever asked these questions.  

Does God owe me my son’s life?  Is he obligated to spare him pain and suffering?  Everything inside of me screams yes.  But I know those who have suffered much more.  I have read the stories of those who never even had a shot.

I heard a story of a woman held in slavery that got pregnant.  The pimp tightened his watch on the woman, not because he didn’t want to lose the woman.  It was because of the value of the baby to his trade.

What chance is there for this woman, this baby that is not even born yet?

And as my son lies here, bruised and broken, I realize, God doesn’t owe me anything.

My son is alive.  He is my friend.  I am safe and called to risk everything for a Savior that died for me.  I am blessed and admonished to bless others with everything I have.  I am loved and commanded to love others with my whole heart.

God doesn’t owe me a thing.  
I owe Him.

I owe Him.

Jesus Wins

I have felt such heartbreak over things in this world.  Suffering, human trafficking, divorce, pornography, wars, racism…

How long, oh Lord?

I listened to a song yesterday.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  And I needed the reminder.

See, Jesus isn’t shocked by racism, though it breaks his heart too.  He’s not overwhelmed by the cruelty of man, our propensity for violence and our exploitation of those weaker than ourselves.  His voice is not silenced by the tumult of evil.  His light is not dimmed by the darkness on the horizon.

Remember, oh my soul, He wrote the story.  He placed the characters and set the stage.  His death on the cross culminated in His declaration that, “IT IS FINISHED.”  

So do I live from His victory or do I wonder every day whether the darkness will win.  Will satan ever be able to defeat the church of Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside us, His resurrection power?

Not even remotely!

Jesus wins, has already won.  You can bet your life on it.