Thursday, March 4, 2021

A Method to God's Movement

 Have you ever wondered if there is a rhyme and reason for God's actions? Most of us concede the fact that God has a plan. But is there any way for us to understand his reasoning? 

While I will never claim to comprehend all of His ways, I can't help but notice themes. There are themes, or principles, that God often follows when He chooses to move in our lives. 

If I ignore these principles, I open up myself for more frustration and confusion. I start wondering why God won't answer my prayers when He has promised to do so. I start wondering why God won't answer my prayers in at the way I ask when I'm convinced that my motives are pure.  

On the other hand, when I understand these principles, God's movement in and around me, makes much more sense. 


Here are 4 of the principles:

Principle #1 - The Credit Principle

When God chooses to move, He often does so in ways that leave no doubt who should get the credit. Before I ask God for specific things or opportunities, I need to ask, "Who will get the credit?" Am I seeking the approval or adoration of people? Will this shine a spotlight on me? If so, I should not expect much of God's help. Why? Because we were created to reflect God's image; not project our own.

Many times in my life I have sensed God saying, "I LOVE YOU BUT MY WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU." 

That's why, throughout history, God chooses people that no one wanted. That's why He chooses plans that seem doomed to fail. God blesses and favors strategies that will give Him the glory.


Principle #2 - The Community Principle

Whenever God is at work, He brings people together. When I ask for God to show up and fix a situation, solve a problem, or open a door, I can be sure that He is thinking about more than just rescuing me. As He rescues me, He will help others too. 

God usually relates to us as a community; not as individuals. We love the idea of having a personal relationship with God, through Jesus. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. At the same time, if we pay attention to how God usually works in us and around us, we will hear God saying, "MY RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU IS PERSONAL BUT NOT PRIVATE." 

He made us for community and is always working to accomplish that purpose. Instead of supernaturally rescuing me, God usually sends someone to encourage me. Those moments usually become mutually encouraging relationships that bring us together. Maybe that was on Jesus' mind when He prayed, "Father make them one."


Principle #3 - The Character Principle

Even as God works in the context of community, He is developing and strengthening my own faith. It's as if God is saying, "I WOULD RATHER MAKE YOU WHOLE THAN MAKE YOU HAPPY." God is going to bless and favor the things that make me more like Him.

If what I am asking for is going to negatively affect my character, I expect God to withhold that gift. When I ask for an open door and it never opens, perhaps I'm just not ready. There are aspects to my character that still need to be developed. 


Principle #4 - The Chapter Principle

Every good story is broken up into chapters. The Story of God is no different. By themselves, the chapters are hollow and unfinished. But within the context of the whole story, we see how the chapters work together to further the story.

My life is a chapter in the Story of God. When God chooses to move in my life, I can be certain that God is doing so with understanding of what is coming next. My chapter affects other chapters. My life affects other lives. He is determined to move His Story forward. 

GOD WILL NOT SABOTAGE HIS OWN STORY

This principle is all about purpose. We don't always see why God does what He does because we can't see the whole story. We don't see how our chapters are inter-woven into other chapters. 

God blesses and favors that which moves His Story forward



So why does God do what He does?

When God moves, He gets the glory, His people get the blessing, I take the next step in my journey, and God starts a new chapter in His Story.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Peace in Our Time

I will continue to pray for unity, peace, understanding, and patience, in my country. I will pray for more diversity in my life. I will not be offended by those who oppose my prayers. Just as I did for my previous President, I pray that my current President has a face-to-face meeting with Jesus and is blinded by God's mercy and goodness. And I will continue to believe that all the poop we are wading through will eventually become fertilizer for a more hope-filled world.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Close the Distance

As kids, we were taught to distance ourselves from bad company.  People who do bad things will corrupt us.  And there is always that threat of guilt by association.

Yet when I read the Bible, I see Jesus disrespecting the distance.  He loved to close gaps.  Instead of walking away, He would walk towards the company of so-called bad people.

Perhaps this is nowhere better illustrated than when a woman caught in adultery was brought to the church-house.  While Jesus was teaching, religious leaders interrupted him.  In an attempt to shame a sinning woman and, at the same time, put Jesus in a difficult situation, this woman was forced into a circle of shame.  She stood there alone, guilty, embarrassed, frightened, and ashamed.

Instead of joining the mob, Jesus embarrassed the mob.  He pointed out their own lack of perfection and challenged their authority to carry out her sentence.  After those who attempted to shame here were gone, Jesus closed the distance.  He stood near her and reminded her that she was created for more than that.  He literally told her to “go and sin no more.”

He was not afraid of her.  He did not run from her.  He closed the distance and stood up for her.

This was not the first time and it would not be the last time.  Jesus was always speaking to someone he was not expected to speak with.  He ate with the wrong people.  Walked with the wrong people.  Befriended the wrong people.  Even touched the wrong people.

While we have to be wise and hold tightly to our identity as followers of Jesus, we have no choice but to close the gap.  We cannot show mercy and give life from a distance.   We must draw close.

Our reputations may take hits.  Our limits may be tested.  But Jesus was accused.  And Jesus’ second chances were sometimes abused.

And…

Jesus said, “As I have been sent.  So I send you.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Unreachable or Untouchable?



Year ago, when someone was stricken with Hansen's Disease, or what was then known as leprosy, they were deemed untouchable.  When they walked into a crowd, the people parted like Moses had just walked in.  They ate alone.  They sat alone.  They lived alone.

One day Jesus was approached by one of these untouchables.

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”  Matthew 8:1-4

It was an amazing day for sure.  An untouchable had been given a second chance at life.  The miracle itself is a beautiful picture of hope.

But the part that sticks to me is the touch.  

Jesus "reached out his hand" and touched him.  Then He healed him.  Those acts seemed to be independent of one another.  

In other words, Jesus didn't have to touch him.  He chose to touch him.  He chose to touch a man who had been declared untouchable.  Jesus could have simply spoken His healing into being.  Instead, while the disease was present, scary, repulsive, and horrific, Jesus put His own hand on the man's shoulder.

God's plan for us is to be healers.  We are to let Him work through us to embrace the world.  We can not be the people we were created to be, if we avoid contact with those who are considered untouchable.  How can we reach people if we are afraid to touch people?

Our cities are filled with people who appear to be unreachable only because we have labeled them untouchable.  

As it turned out, "leprosy" was not as contagious as everyone thought.  It just looked that way.

We live in a culture of protection.  We spend our lives trying to avoid contact with danger, fear, disappointment, and even dirt.  Jesus embraced it all.  

He embraced us.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Talented or Gifted?

Love is what turns your talent into a gift.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

There are many impressive things we can do.  Lofty goals we can accomplish.  Noble services we can provide.  But when our motivation is selfish, it is nothing but a talent.  

The world has enough talent shows.  

It needs more gift displays. 

A talent can draw attention, produce applause, and bring fame.

A gift will change a life.  

Talented people ask, "Who will notice and how can I build my brand?'

Gifted people ask, "How can I honor God and build up people?

Talented people are called performers.

Gifted people are called servants.

God has created us all with abilities.  What's in our hearts will determine whether these abilities turn into talents or grow into gifts.

Love is what turns talents into gifts.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Shark Week

Crashing waves create the most peaceful sound on earth.  The deep blue ocean is the most beautiful sight on earth.  And sharks are the most fascinating creatures on earth.

My dream is to spend time in a shark cage.  I want to know that adrenaline rush.  I wan to experience the adventure.  I want to take the risk.  It is a bit costly but one day, somehow, it is going to happen.

The irony is that I have yet to conquer the enemy of motion sickness.

The thought of sitting in a boat, rocking up and down, and up and down, and up and down, well makes me want to vomit.

So, as long as I am moving towards the goal, preparing to dive, or in the cage descending to the depths of a lifelong dream, I’ll be fine.

But the moment the boat stops moving, I’m in trouble.

Drifting makes me sick.  Floating makes me miserable.  Letting the wind determine direction turns me green.

God created us all to be on mission.  To move with purpose and direction.  To set our sights on risk and adventure.  To remain focused and take initiative.  When we neglect that purpose, it is as if we are floating in the middle of the ocean.

Our souls get sick.

We abandon our missions for a lot of reasons.

We get tired.  We get discouraged.  We get angry.  We get jealous.

Whatever the reasons are, we allow them to put an end to our quest.

When the mission ends, we drift.  And our souls get sick.

You were made for mission.

There is more to you than even you know.

So rediscover what moves you, where you are strong, and most importantly, what mission God has placed on your heart.

Stop drifting.  Start diving.

#SharkWeek

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

WHO'S YOUR BOO?

We fear what we don’t know.  What we can’t see.  What we can’t explain.  The great thing about a mystery is the freedom it gives us to speculate.  It gives us permission to hypothesize and imagine.  But our minds tend to wander away from us.

And lie to us.

Boo Radly is a fictional character.  His real first name is Arthur.  He was dreamed up by Harper Lee for the sake of her novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

But we all know a “Boo.”

The original Boo Radley was a young man who lived most of his life in the shadows.  He was different.  He was misunderstood.  He kept to himself.

But because he lived in the little town of Maycomb, everyone knew him.  Well, they knew of him.  No one really knew him.

He was rumored to have bitten off one of his mother’s fingers.  He supposedly ate squirrels and cats.  It was believed that Boo’s teeth were yellow and rotten, his eyes were bugged, and he drooled most of the day.

With each passing year that people chose not to know Boo, the tales grew taller and taller.

You know “Boo” don’t you?

Boo is that one to whom no one speaks, but about whom everyone talks.  Boo is rumored to support a particular political candidate, eat a certain kind of food, and listen to a unique style of music.  Boo is believed to lack compassion, hold grudges, and drink too much wine.  Boo must have some kind of past that follows him.  Boo must have perfected the filter function on his iPhone.  But no one really knows.  And, sadly, no one cares to know him.

The truth might damage the legend.  No one wants the facts to get in the way of a good story.    

So we stay away.  We whisper.  We gossip.  We fear.

In the novel, one of the children who perpetuated the myths of Boo eventually came face to face with him.  On a dark night, someone tried to hurt her.  In her time of need, out of the shadows, Boo appeared.  And he saved her life.  

There he was.  Their own boogeyman was standing in front of them.  And he wasn’t so bad.  He wasn’t so big.  He had his teeth.  He even had a grin.

It’s sad to think of all that wasted time.  They could have been friends.  They could have made memories.  She could have helped the people of the town see the real Boo.

There are scary people all around us.  They seem to live in the shadows.  Because we haven’t taken the time to know them, we fear them.  We criticize them.  Out of our own guilt, we marginalize them. We attack them from behind.

The truth is that often these hard to figure out mysterious individuals are good people.  Potential heroes.  “Boos.”

They just need someone to believe in them.