Getting to a faith like a child

Luke 24:31a And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
How many times and ways does it take for Jesus to reveal who He is before we fully believe? Sometimes that is like asking how many times does it take to ask our kids to pick up their room before they do. The answer should be once, but in reality, it is more than once.

The women who visited the tomb after Jesus was crucified were met by angels. They ran and told the disciples who didn’t believe them. Peter ran to the tomb and after, “looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” Then two other disciples walked with a man for 7 miles while he opened the scripture to them about Jesus. At the end, He revealed Himself to them through the breaking of bread. After they returned the 7 miles even when it was late, they were telling the others about Jesus when He appeared to them. But they thought they saw a spirit. Once Jesus appeared to all of them, He showed his hands and feet and side. And they still didn’t believe. So He ate some fish, explained the words He had spoken to them earlier and then opened their minds. 

We tend to be like this. We let other things get in the way of our faith and Jesus has to break down those barriers. It would be easy to just say, “have faith like a child!” Or as one guy put it, “dumb faith.” It is that simple, but simple isn’t always easy. If you find yourself struggling with faith, then pray for Jesus to meet you where you are, through Himself or others, to break down the layers until you are ready for Him to open you mind. 

This can be a scary thing because at that moment, we are letting go of everything and casting it upon the Lord. We are letting go of any control we think we might have. My father tells of a story when I was younger and he had hoisted me up on the roof to fetch a plane or frisbee or some other toy. Because we didn’t bother to get out the ladder in the first place, there wasn’t a simple way back down. So, my father opened up his arms and said jump. No, my mother wasn’t there at the time. For me, it was my dad telling me to jump and he would catch me. So I jumped. Much to the surprise of my dad, actually, and he did catch me. Either I was too young and stupid to think of the possible consequences or I fully trusted my father, but I jumped. I wish I could remember that feeling today. 

This is what it is like to trust God. Throwing our hands out and jumping as He calls us, trusting that He knows all in all because He is all in all. Not letting barriers in our minds our hearts getting in the way of what the Lord wants to accomplish through us. Pray that God will meet you where you are, breaking down those barriers that you have erected, and show Himself to you. Then believe and act. Job said that he had heard of God but now he is seeing Him. But notice this, Jesus was always moving. He was at the tomb but was gone before the women or the disciples arrived. He walked along the road with the other two but then vanished from their sight. Then as the two were telling the others about their experience, Jesus himself stood among them. This is why, once He reveals himself to us, we must follow Him. He doesn’t stay where we are and He wont allow us to stay there either.

And this is where faith really comes in. After all, the road He wants us to follow is narrow and difficult. 

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Why would God be for us?

Romans 8:31-39
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How many people misuse verse 31? They think erroneously, “I can do what I want and if God is for me who can be against me?” That approach is more testing God or trying to get God into your system. It is so backwards. The question should be, “how do we make sure God is for us?”

Politicians get blamed for not having a backbone, or being wishy-washy. A politician has become someone who does what the people want, not necessarily what is right. If they want the people to be for them and therefore vote for them, they must do what the people want or else we go find someone else. Yet when it comes to our Creator, we want Him to be for us even if we aren’t doing what He wants.

Asking how do we make sure God is for us should be enough for us to change. It seems plain and simple, but it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough because of how hard headed we are or how stubborn we are that keeps us from changing. I’m saying even if you do change because of asking this question, it still isn’t enough. We must go deeper here. We must dig in more as to what the Word is telling us. Why? Because we need to know the why! Why is He for us? What shows that he is for us? And what exactly is it that He for?

Why is God for us? 

God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. Everything! Then He created man and gave him dominion over His creation. That is still evident today. No other creature comes close to our capabilities as a whole. You don’t see any creature controlling man… except for cats and Beverly Hills Chihuahuas, but that is another talk about false idols that we won’t get into today. God created everything and then man and then walked with man. Not because God was lonely. Not because He was bored. God created and then walked with man because God is love. God is for us because HE IS LOVE. 2017-02-25-13-08-25

What shows His love?

Verse 32 answers this right away. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,” says it about a simply as possible. John 3:16 states it even more directly, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” God is a God of sacrifice. I don’t mean the messy blood-spilling animal-killing kind we see in the Old Testament. I mean, He shows us the “how” to be in His will through His sacrificial love of sending His Son to die for us. What are you sacrificing? What are you giving up? What are you paying? And what are you doing all of that for?

What is God for?

God showed us love by sacrifice. And that is what he wants from us. What are you willing to lay down for Christ? He was willing to lay down His life for you? That’s not a guilt thing, it’s a value thing. He valued you enough to lay down his life. So, what is He asking you to lay down? He is asking you to lay down the weight of sin. He is asking you to lay down your burden. He is asking you to lay down your will. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Come to Jesus, lay down your sins, your burdens, and your will to be yoked to Him so He can show you the way. He will do the work, you just need to follow. And you will find rest!

Then, in that rest, you won’t worry about attacks from the enemy, you won’t worry about ridicule from your peers, you won’t worry about tomorrow because you will KNOW that God is for you.

And if God is for you, who can be against you?

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A Moving Experience

Praying for direction is something I think everyone has done at least once if not once per week. We all want to know what God’s will is for our lives and where He would have us be or go. I believe the more we seek out the will of God, depending on how we approach it, will either lead us closer to God or cause us to drift farther apart from Him. It comes down’ to how much control we are willing to give up. If we are only willing to give up a little or none, we will tend to be frustrated and drift farther from God. The more control we are willing to let go of, then the closer we will actually get to God.

Ever since giving into letting God lead, a lot has changed in my life. I truly didn’t start giving up control until after I had moved down to California. Since then everything has changed. I married my son’s mother, got more involved in the church, felt the call to ministry for the second time and this time I answered, and more and more and more has changed since. Each time I gave up control, God showed me a new phase. Each time I gave up control, I ended up closer to God.

My wife and I had been praying for direction for us, for our ministry, for our family for years now. A few years ago, we had decided to lay down our abstinence classes in seeking God’s will for the program deciding that we would only do them if God directed us to. Later on, while sitting in church, I heard God tell me that He had never asked us to lay them down in the first place. This has lead us into seeking even more the direction He would have us go.

A couple of years ago, we started to discuss about where we should be, if Thousand Oaks was the right place. I don’t remember why it even came up, but it was involved in us praying for direction. We continued to pray about what we were supposed to be doing and where. During that time, we continued to attend church weekly, did our own devotions and bible studies and we both enjoyed listening to sermons online from a variety of pastors. This is something I would encourage everyone to do throughout the week. If you aren’t doing this, then it is like going to Souplantation and eating all that you can eat on Sunday and then not eating the rest of the week.

During this time, we watched a video by Paul David Tripp based on his book, “Dangerous Calling.” In this one particular segment, he was talking about pastor’s losing their awe of God. That all inspiring reverent approach to God and what He has done. God’s work had become mundane for the pastor. This started me thinking about my “awe factor” of God. Had I lost my awe? Did I even have an awe of God to begin with?

Later on, I was watching a sermon by Francis Chan where he was talking about when he discovered his awe while reading Isaiah 6 where Isaiah is taken to the throne room of God. I went to chapter 6 and I started reading about the throne room over and over and over. I could see where it could cause awe in someone. But it didn’t hit me there. I kept reading and praying and reading but nothing. Then one day, I read verse 6 and things started to unravel. That is unravel in a good way. It started with the angel taking a coal from the altar. My first thought, honestly, was what are they sacrificing in heaven? There’s no death in heaven! Then I remembered that the tabernacle that Moses built was a replica of heaven. When I looked there, I noticed that the altar to sacrifice was outside of the tabernacle. But the altar that was inside was where they burned incense continually. In Revelation 8, we see that the incense is the prayers of the saints.

BOOM!

This hit me hard. The awe that I was looking for rushed over me.

The angel that stood guard in the throne room, who covered his face and his feet in reverence of God, plucked out a coal that was from the prayer of someone to cleanse the lips of Isaiah. This Cherubim new nothing but the reverence of God and his whole role was to keep evil away from God. (Not for God’s sake, but for the evil’s sake, since evil could not survive in His presence.) This is why he took the coal to cleanse Isaiah’s lips in order to allow Isaiah to stay there.

The fact that the coal was a prayer of someone else changed how I prayed. Is my prayer worthy of being burned on the altar in the presence of God? Psalm 141:2 says.”Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” As I consider this when I approach prayer, the awe fills me up to overflowing.

Not long after, we were going through the book, “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman with the youth group. In one chapter, he shares a story about a girl who was very well know in her school and loved by everyone. She was a strong Christian and it showed in her relationships. One day she was killed in a car accident. At her funeral, her father read one of her last entries in her journal to the packed service of her friends and classmates. In her journal, she wrote, “Today I prayed a dangerous prayer…” It goes on to explain that she prayed that she would go wherever God would have her go.

Given my new approach to prayer, and add to it this idea of the dangerous prayer, I was ready to give up more control than I have ever done. What I didn’t know was where God would have me go. That almost sounds like a duh statement. After talking with my wife about what God was leading me to do, I prayed that prayer. I had never felt called to be a missionary in Africa or South America or any other country. I didn’t know if this prayer would start a change in my heart for that or not. But it didn’t matter because I was giving up control and letting God direct me.

This started opening up new doors that I had never known about before. God started speaking to me in ways I had never experienced before. It was as if He was speaking to me in themes each month for month after month. First it was wait. Then it was, “Go up this mountain but don’t worry because I will show you the path, just keep walking.” Then it was get out of the boat and walk where you don’t even think you could walk. This lead me to resign my position as associate pastor at my church. We were sure that was it; To focus on our ministry. (I will write more about the “themes” later on.)

Pike's Peak in the morning

Seeing a mountain peak that is a mile higher than you are can be awe inspiring. But what about the awe of God? Shouldn’t it be even greater?

But there had been this idea that had gotten into our heads. The thought of moving to Colorado. Not just a thought of moving anywhere, but to Colorado. Specifically Colorado Springs. Random, yes. I was born in Colorado Springs, so when the thought came into my head, I pushed it out as my flesh trying to direct. But then my wife started talking about it. As we sought the Lord in this, other things started happening that were “out of the blue”. Our pastor’s son got engaged and they decided to get married in Colorado Springs. We had a close friend come to us and tell us that while she was praying for us, all she could think about was Colorado. Our own daughter, who at 3 years old, named her stuffed animals with names such as Beary Bear, or Fishy Fish named a giant stuffed fuzzy star, “Colorado.”

Each time God showed us a new thing, He has opened another door, showing us the next little bit. God truly became the light unto our path. In the book of Ezekiel in chapter 47, his guide takes him along the river flowing from the new temple and as it goes,  it gets deeper and deeper. This is how it should be when you walk with the Lord. You get deeper into the living water. And the trees along the river will “bear fresh fruit every month, because the water flows for them from the sanctuary.” As you have your foundation in the Word, in church, in fellowship and prayer, the Spirit in you becomes deeper and deeper and you produce more and more fruit through Him. And as we took each step, God started doing new work in our lives. He has brought in speakers for our abstinence program. He also provided a grant from a public school for our program. Both of which we had been praying about for years. Now I am working for a Christian organization that provides back office support for non-profits and missionaries here in Colorado.

You can look at that river in Ezekiel as flowing FROM the temple or AWAY from the temple. Almost like seeing a glass as half empty or half full. If you see it as flowing FROM the temple, originating at the temple and going out then you see the work the Lord does as you go out. If you see it as flowing away from the temple, then you see more of doing things in your own power as you go out. The question is, “Are you flowing FROM the temple or AWAY from the temple?” What does it look like when you leave church each week?

What would it looked like if you prayed that dangerous prayer?

Not everyone is called to another place. Most are called to be right where you are and everyone is called to reach out to their neighbor. For us, God called us to Colorado Springs. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is we are going to continue our ministry in the schools in Thousand Oaks teaching abstinence. God has opened up doors for that to continue. We are still going to work to get the message of purity and living purely for Christ out there into schools and youth groups. What that looks like in Colorado? God knows. We have just seen His faithfulness come through each time we take another step, be it a step on a path he has shown us or a step out of something we know and onto something that we have no idea that we can even walk on.

Mike Rosell of Potter’s Field Ministries said it best when he relayed what God had told him back when they were just starting in ministry, “Quit making excuses why you can’t do something and start letting God do something.” Give your control over to God. Let Him do the work and watch the fruit that happens.

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My Plans are IMPOSSIBLE!

Sometimes you just need to write something. I wish I could write quickly in a way that could be read but I haven’t practiced that enough to do so. This has been a great week. I have been in Colorado for a week now and I have accomplished 1 of the 3 things I came to accomplish. There has been some very frustrating times and some very hopeful times. Ups and downs. Relaxing and working.
Each of the three things that I am trying to accomplish, in themselves are hard enough. Finding a new car that meets the needs of the family, fits in the budget and is available isn’t usually a single days task. Finding a job that will meet the needs of the family is hard enough, and when it is in another state, employers aren’t willing to look at you because they don’t want to pay for moving. Finding a new place to live in an unfamiliar area with unknowns such as where you will work or go to church or … you name it. Trying to accomplish all three on a short time frame is almost impossible. At least it feels impossible most of the time.
I came out here with hopes and a plan. I need a car to get around so I could look at houses and go to job interviews as needed. I need a job so that I can apply for a rental application. I need a home to show that I am living here in order to get a job. So, now I sit here, writing because I need to. I have a car. I have it registered here in Colorado. I have had an interview and I have another job lined up that doesn’t pay too well, but it is a job in case everything else falls through. I have submitted on rental application. I have tried to submit another but when I clicked on submit after filling everything in, it cleared everything except my name.
I had planned on leaving today in my new-to-us car with a rental contract in hand and a start date for a job. My plans…

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

– Proverbs 16:9

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

– Proverbs 16:1

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

– Proverbs 19:21

I had planned on being here a week or less. I had planned on things my way. When I focus on how my way is not working out, I get frustrated. When I change my thinking, and I pause my plans and trust in the LORD, then I know that things will work out. I know that His will will come through. I know that I can be confident in what He has called us to do and where He has called us to go. I am sure of those things. I know He has called us here to do something for Him. And He may not reveal exactly what that is until we get here… or months later. Or He may reveal it today or tomorrow.2016-10-22-08-14-00

I know He will reveal what we are here for, and I also know that if I am too focused on my plans, on my view, on my desires, on me anything… then I will not be able to see the revealing. It may be right in front of me and I won’t be able to perceive it. I will be blind to it. The Word tells us that we can do no thing without Jesus. No matter what we want to do, no matter if what we want to do is loving and caring and serving, we can’t do it without Jesus. Me might be able to go through the actions. We might even look like we accomplish something. We could physically build a house, but without Jesus, we aren’t making a home. Without Him, we can do no thing. With Him we can do all things. Jesus knows when we do things in ourselves and when we do things with Him. He even tells how in the end, some will come before Him having done some miraculous things and Jesus will tell them to depart because He doesn’t know them.

JESUS! The Word that brought all things into being. The One that created you and me. The One who holds all things together, the glue that binds everything together. This Jesus will tell someone who has done “good” works that He never knew them. He created them. How does He not know them?

It is in that knowing and because of that knowing that we are able to do everything. It isn’t just knowing someone by name. It isn’t even knowing where they work or what they like. It is a knowing you get only after laboring closely with them, battling through things, struggling together. Jesus asks us to do just that with him. Cast aside all your worries and doubts and fears and burdens and yoke up to me. Come labor with me. Come do work right next to me. I will show you the ropes. I will guide you in the way. I will teach you. And in the showing, the guiding and teaching, I will get to know you and you will get to know me.

This is what I need to remember as I am trying to accomplish my impossible goals. I must remember that they are my goals and as long as they are my goals, they are impossible. When I trust in Jesus and let His goals become my goals, He will make the way that I need to go. So that is going to be my focus for the rest of today. Tomorrow, is a new day and I will need to repent again of planning my day and thank God for His new mercies.

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Love in 4D

Love. Four letters that I am sure more creative people have acronymized into some phrase that brings responses of, “awwwww.”

“L” is for longlasting.

“O” is for odd.

“V” is for I’m not good at this…

What is love? We say “I love…” for so many things in this world. I love my wife! I love skittles! I love soccer… this weather… macaroni and cheese… peace… people… you! In English, the meaning loses value with how much we use it for a variety of things. In context, we have an idea of what it means. When I say, “I love Skittles!” everyone understands that I am candidate for diabetes and I will be putting my dentist’s children through med school. In context, we get that. But, when I say something as simple as, “I love my wife!” there are as many opinions as people about what it means for a husband to love his wife.

Biblically, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Great!!! Sounds like a plan… now what? What does it mean to love like Christ? How do you love like Christ? What is the love that Christ Jesus has for you and me? Well, the answer is beyond me. Literally.

Let me explain what I mean. If you were to tell me in order to love my wife I need to tell her that I love her morning, noon and night. Great! I can do that. Check, check and check plus a bonus one here and there. Easy peasy even cheesey!

Now, if you were to tell me that to love my wife, I need to provide for her. Sweet! I can do that. A home, clothes, food… I may have to work extra here and there but I can do that. Combine these two and it is still easy peasy. “I love you.” Work. “I love you.” Work. “I love you.” Sleep. Repeat.

But that wouldn’t do, now would it. That isn’t going to make a solid relationship is it! So now you say that I need to learn her “love language.” Ok. That is a bit harder. Aaaaand speak it. Even harder. I can do it though, after all I took Spanish for three years and sign language for half of a semester.  But those were with teachers that knew the language and then taught from there. (And I have forgotten most of it.) What you are telling me now is more like landing on a desolate island and trying to learn and interpret the language from scratch. But, it is doable. More work, more time and more worth it. Easy, not so peasy.

So far, we haven’t even touched what it means to love like Christ. So let’s look at some scripture. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 has recently caught my attention. I have seen this verse before and even taught on it. My engineering brain jumps on it because it is about volume. Paul is praying that you would, “have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” It is volume.

Volume is a three dimensional concept. First, you start with a dot. There is no dimensions to a dot. It is basically nothing. But take a ton of dots and put them next to each other and you have a line. This is one dimension. Take a ton of lines and put them together and you have a plane. Two dimensions. Flat. Take a bunch of planes and stack them on top of each other and then you have volume. You can actually hold something. My descriptions of loving my wife above isn’t even to this volume part. It wouldn’t stack up. In order to find the volume of something, let’s say a box to make it easy, is to take the dimensions of the sides and multiply them together. Length X Width X Height. Just with these alone, looking at the love of Christ, we would have to take each measurement as infinity.

Infinity X Infinity X Infinity = INFINITY.

cubes

1, 2, 3, 4, … INFINITY

Just one dimension of Christ’s love for us would be enough. And it is enough. “For God so loved the world…” That right there is enough for us. After all, we only really talk about love in one dimension, depth. His love is so deep for her. But this isn’t enough for Jesus. He loves us more than one dimension. He loves us more that two dimensions. He loves us even more than three dimensions. He has a fourth dimension to his love. Read it again. “breadth and length and height and depth.” He has the volume, which is already infinity x infinity x infinity and then multiplies that by infinity.

Jesus’ love is four dimensional.

I get volume. I understand that very well. I did enough calculations in physics to get a great grasp on volume. When you make the dimensions infinity, then you are now getting outside of what I can comprehend. I sorta kinda get it… but barely in concept. But then go and multiply that infinity by infinity… I can’t grasp that at all. But this is why Paul prays that we would have the strength to comprehend it all. Something that he describes as, “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Of course we can’t get it in this 3 dimensional world. We have to add the spiritual aspect to it. Something outside of time and space (volume).

So let’s bring that back to the love I have for my wife. It can’t just be a 3 step program or check lists or learning a new language. It has to include a spiritual aspect to it. How do we do that? Looking to Christ, we see how often he would pray for the church. Jesus, part of the triune God, prayed to the Father. Don’t you think Jesus’ thoughts were the same as God’s? Did Jesus need to pray? I don’t think he needed to but he did because he came here to show us how to live. I need to pray for my wife. I need to pray in a way that gets outside of this volume that I understand.

It is so much more than prayer too. Jesus laid his life down for us. Jesus spent time with us. Jesus taught us. Jesus cared for us, lead us, protected us and on and on and on. There is so much to learn from Jesus in how we can love our wives. But that is just one person that we are to love. We are to love others too. If we don’t love our brother, how can we then love our Father? And we are supposed to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. We don’t even comprehend the type of love we are suppose to love each other with. How, then, are we to even come close to understanding the love that Jesus has for us!

The good news is this, we don’t have to understand it to receive it. God so loved the world that he gave. It isn’t, “God has such a great love for us and for those that understand it, he sent…” But upon receiving it, we can start to understand it in order that our lives will be changed and we can live out loving others as Jesus has commanded us. Paul prayed for strength for us to learn something outside of what we can comprehend in order grow.

Talk about shooting for the stars in order to hit the moon!

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A lame dog lost in a cardboard forest

Have you ever felt like you are being led somewhere, but you have no idea where that “where” is? It is like someone you trust comes to you and says, close your eyes and take my hand. Your mind starts racing, “Is it my birthday?” “Did I win something?” “Is this a joke?” But you follow, hoping that you won’t stumble, trying to fight the urge to peek wanting to know where you are going but not wanting to ruin the surprise or your friends trust.

That is where we are at right now in our life. Our friend who is asking us to close our eyes and follow him is Jesus. We know we are moving, we just don’t know where. We don’t know how big or how involved this move is going to be. We just know we are taking Jesus’s hand and walking.2016-05-27 14.07.00

One of the reasons we are moving is because, well, we have to move. We don’t have an option. We can’t stay here. It causes me to have many feelings of inadequacies. I have a lot of fear, a lot of doubt and a lot of worry based on me.

What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? –     2 Samuel 9:8

I read today’s (May 27th) Morning and Evening devotional by Spurgeon and 2 Samuel 9:13 was the focus of the devotion. Talk about perfect timing. Here is a guy with lame feet welcomed to the table of the king. Oh what great love and grace has the King for us!

Such is the love which the Father bears to His only begotten, that for His sake He raises His lowly brethren from poverty and banishment, to courtly companionship, noble rank, and royal provision. Their deformity shall not rob them of their privileges. Lameness is no bar to sonship; the cripple is as much the heir as if he could run like Asahel. Our right does not limp, though our might may. A king’s table is a noble hiding-place for lame legs, and at the gospel feast we learn to glory in infirmities, because the power of Christ resteth upon us.

Spurgeon, “Morning and Evening”

This was the prelude to my prayer time. What a great way to enter into prayer! I turned on iHeart radio so random worship songs would be played while I started my time. First song built upon the devotion.

*[Chorus 1:]

And I find myself here on my knees again

Caught up in grace like an avalanche

Nothing compares to this love love love

Burning in my heart

No matter what I have done, no matter what I have thought of myself, God’s grace is so much bigger. My mistakes, my poor choices, my sin… all of it combined is no match for His love and grace.

Through this whole time I have been sure of one thing: I am following Jesus!

I have had moments of fear, moments of doubt, moments of questioning Him and myself but in the end I know for sure that I am following where He is leading me. I am not left alone like a desolate house.

And I find myself here sitting among cardboard boxes… feeling like a lame dog but caught up in His grace like an avalanche. I do not know when or where we are going, I just know that we are going. I know I don’t like the circumstances. I know I don’t like and don’t understand how it is happening.

    Give ear, and hear my voice;
        give attention, and hear my speech.
    Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
        Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
    When he has leveled its surface,
        does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
    and put in wheat in rows
        and barley in its proper place,
        and emmer as the border?
    For he is rightly instructed;
        his God teaches him.
   
   
    Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
        nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
    but dill is beaten out with a stick,
        and cumin with a rod.
    Does one crush grain for bread?
        No, he does not thresh it forever;
    when he drives his cart wheel over it
        with his horses, he does not crush it.
    This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
        he is wonderful in counsel
        and excellent in wisdom.
    (Isaiah 28:23-29 ESV)

God knows there is a time and purpose for the upheaval of plowing. He knows things need to be mixed up in order to affect change. He also knows what seeds and how the seeds need to be planted in order to bear the most fruit. I am not sure what God is doing, but I know that we are following him and that He doesn’t make a mistake or a wrong turn. His purposes, His will, His plans are higher, greater, and bigger than anything I could ever imagine and I am trusting in Him and doing whatever I can to follow.

“Men will see what my faith is by what my faith does when I openly exercise it in their presence.” Kenny Luck (Twitter)

This part of our life is a struggle for me. It is hard. It is not fun or desireable to go through but it comes with a ton of hope and that hope is what is getting us through it all. The hope is first of all from God. It is that God has something much bigger and better than I could ever imagine. It is the gravy for my mashed potatoes when I was just asking for potatoes. The hope is that by going through this, I will be better equipped to help others walk through it as well.

*[Verse 3:]

Saviour and Friend

Breathing Your life into my heart

Your word is the lamp unto my path

Forever I’m humbled by Your love

Oh

And it is because of His love that I am able to continue to say:

*[Bridge:]

Take my life

Take all that I am

With all that I am I will love You

Take my heart

Take all that I have

Jesus how I adore You

I prayed a dangerous prayer last year, very similar to the bridge above, that I would go wherever God would take me. (And by me, I mean us meaning my family). Now we are going through a trial, something that could take our eyes off of Jesus, and I could try to turn to something else to pull us through. But as Peter says in his first letter, we are keeping our eyes on our King in order that our faith “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 

What area or areas of your life can you turn over to God today? What about your whole life? What is holding you back?

 

*Lyrics from Hillsong United, “Like an Avalanche”

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Stepping out of the boat… bye bye mountain

Stepping out of the boat… To walk or sink!

Being in ministry is interesting… to say the least. You never know where you are going to end up on any given day. Sometimes that unknown place is a quick stop somewhere. Other times it is a much bigger endeavor. Some may think it is scary to give the direction of your life over to someone else. And in many ways it is scary. However, there is also a freedom in knowing the One who knows a lot more than you do is in control. By giving our lives over to the all-knowing God, it frees us up to just learn, live, and teach His word.

This year has been just as interesting if not more so. I have heard of others who had radical changes in their lives because God called them somewhere new or back to somewhere old. I have almost envied those that “heard from the Lord” to go here or do this in a big move. I often forget the subtle shifts He has made in my life from time to time. I know that I have in the past defaulted to being the one deciding things without looking to God and this has been the cause of many struggles. But God knew I would choose what I did and what the consequences would be and He wasn’t surprised or mystified by my choices.

One example of God’s timing is my knee surgery. What should have taken 4 appointments and a surgery over however short that could have taken place took at least 8 appointments (some postponed, rescheduled or missed) over a time of 14 months. If it would have taken the couple of months that it should have (in my time), I would have had my surgery almost a year ahead of when I did. So I would have been going through rehab last year which, looking back, wouldn’t have been too bad but it would have changed quite a few things through the year. One of which was working part-time for a carpet cleaning friend of mine which was something that helped us financially get through the year. But also, I would not have been prepared to hear from the Lord. Besides, it wasn’t His timing either with everything else that had to happen in other people’s lives as well. (Something that if you take the time to think about how God works in and knows everyone’s lives and how they all work together here and there, your brain would implode. Mine does!)

Looking at things now, I see a different picture. I see God’s hand in it so much more because of what He has been showing us this year alone. It is weird to me because I have never heard of God working in “themes,” especially monthly ones. That is exactly how He has been talking to us this year though. Here is what He has told us each month:

  • Jan – God said rest. Be still. Wait… It helped that I was laid up after knee surgery.
  • Feb. – God said get going… so we got going. Posting more, reaching out more meeting more etc…
  • March – God said, there is a mountain in front of you but I will show you the path. Your foot will not stumble and I will give you strength each step.
  • April – God is saying… now, it’s time to get out of the boat. Wait! What?

What do you mean, “Get out of the boat”? We were just on a mountain on terra FIRMa. SOLID ground. SURE footing. When did we end up in the boat? Climbing a mountain is big enough, isn’t it?

Rob and Jenna Crenshaw

Rob and Jenna Crenshaw – Stepping out of the boat.

But that is what He is telling us to do. Get out of the boat. Get up out of that comfortable seat, even though you have been experiencing the storms, you have been doing so from the safety of the boat. Now, go over to the edge and climb out. I showed you the path last month and you were walking on solid ground that your brain understood would hold you up. Now, I want you to get out of the boat, get out of your brain and walk on… liquid. A substance that we dive into. I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t go diving into dirt or rocks.

So we are getting out of the boat. We are stepping out on the water. And one of two things will happen. One option is our foot will stop at the surface (or maybe just below it) and support our weight. We only know this is possible literally because Jesus showed it can be done and He had Peter come to him on the water as well. So, we too must keep our eyes on Jesus as we step out in faith and walk where He is leading us.

The second option is we get out, put our feet in the water, let go of the boat and sink. This doesn’t mean that we were wrong or that Jesus failed us, it just means He is using another option for us as well. Remember Jonah who was trying to run away from what God had asked him to do? He didn’t hit the surface of the water, get up and wipe himself off and start walking to Nineveh. No, he sunk like a rock. But God (I love that phrase) had other means to get Jonah where He wanted him to go. We just want to be obedient so we aren’t thrown from the boat. Or worse, left in the boat.

So, either we will get out and follow Jesus or God will make sure we get to where He wants us to go and we just have to enjoy the ride. It doesn’t matter which way it will be because we will be doing the will of God, living purely for Him. After all is said and done, God desires obedience and that is all we have to make sure we do. Both Peter and Jonah got out of the boat in a stormy sea and God protected them. God is calling us out of the boat in a stormy sea saying don’t be worried or fear but come to me. Trust me.

What does this look like in our life? Well, I had a meeting with my pastor where I submitted my letter of resignation as youth and associate pastor. We are getting out of the boat and focusing solely on our ministry. (It just so happens that our church on the inside looks like an upside down boat.) My pastor confirmed this call as God had been preparing his heart for this exact thing. This is a very exciting time for us. We appreciate your prayers as we keep our focus on Jesus and His direction for us.

Following Christ means death to self.

Another area that this means for us is getting out of not only the Conejo Valley, or even Ventura County but out of California and into other states. The goals and vision God is giving us is big. And only ministering to our local area isn’t going to meet those goals or vision. We are reaching out to other areas, starting with friends and places where we are planning on being anyway. This, I am sure, will quickly open up to reaching out to unknown (for us) areas. Or in other words, walking where we aren’t sure of our footing, but trusting that God will show us the path.

Our hope is that by being obedient to God, first, His glory will be shown and second, others will be motivated to live purely for Him. We aren’t doing this for ourselves by any means. This is purely trusting in God to guide, provide and equip. I hope to share our journey so others can learn to follow God in His calling for their lives.

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