Ducky Quack-Quack!

224598_7042Whenever anything bad happens the first thought to go through my head is, “Why me?”  “What did I do to deserve this?”  “How did I tick God off this time?”  “Things were going so well, why now"?”  Here is what I have become convinced of.  It’s hard to focus on God when He’s blessing me.  Sounds dumb I know.  It is however, true.  When He is blessing me, when things are going well, when life is ducky quack-quack, God tends to be put on the back burner. 

Oswald Chambers said it this way- “Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”  Here, here Mr. Chambers.  I see that happen to me all the time.  When life sucks, I’m talking to Jesus.  When life is going well, I’m talking to everyone but Him.  My prayer this morning was “What have I been doing?  Why am I playing at being a Christ-Follower again?  Why hasn’t my walk at work matched my walk at home?  Why haven’t I really talked to you in a while God?”  Then He answered me, “Because life is going well right now.  Life is good and you’re taking me for granted.” 

 5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
   Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
   your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
   give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
   your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
   don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
   a father’s delight is behind all this. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

I am NOT a prosperity preacher type guy.  (see 1 Timothy 6:6-10)  I think most of that is garbage.  Just my personal opinion but I can’t back up the belief that God wants me to have a Corvette or a Benz.  However God does bless us tangibly and intangibly, but rarely in the way we want.  He may give us peace in a dark time or help us pay for groceries when money is tight, but as far as I can see He isn’t going to give me a Corvette when  what I need is a mini-van.  God gives us what we need to serve Him, not what we want to serve our egos.  But no matter what the blessing is, tangible or intangible, it still tends to make us forget God. 

Maybe you are more spiritually disciplined than I am, if so- you are awesome.  But I imagine that 99.9% of us, if we really looked at, and I mean put a 500 watt quartz light bulb in the lamp in the living room of our heart and looked in the corners and under the love seat I bet what you will find is that, like me, you slack off when things are ducky quack-quack.  Your relationship gets stale.  Your prayers are shorter with way less emotion.  Bible reading is boring and nothing seems to be jumping out at you. 

If this is happening, be careful because the next step is for God to do something or allow something to happen that will get your attention.  Why?  Because He knows the longer you take Him for granted, the farther you get from Him.  The more comfortable you get with not praying or reading, the easier it is to ignore Him.  No one likes to be ignored, God definitely shouldn’t be ignored.  But we do.  I know I do. 

This morning He gently reminded me that I have been ignoring Him.  Hopefully I listen, because usually the reminders get a little more intense each time. 

1195551_what_not_to_do_3 Sometimes I hear my wife but I don’t listen.  I know she is talking, I hear her voice but I’m not listening to her words.  Usually a few minutes later a pillow or something comes whizzing at my head.  If I still don’t listen the object gets bigger and harder.  Ouch!!!  “What honey, I’m ready to listen!” 

 

 

God’s discipline (see last few verses above)  tends to start gentle and get a little harder each time as well.

“I hear you God, please help me to listen.”

 

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It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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The Letdown!

letdown-series-bulletin1Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the word TRUST as an- assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”.  I don’t know about you but I have trust issues.  It is hard for me to fully trust anyone or anything.  I trust very few people in this world, and even then I only fully trust about five of them.  I won’t name them but they know who they are.  It is hard to trust isn’t it?  I am pretty sure we have all felt the sting of betrayal, the pain of dishonesty and the slap of back stabbing.  People at work want our job, people at home have cheated and people at church, well, let’s just leave that one alone.  Our friends hurt us, our family hurts us and our co-workers hurt us.

Sometimes it even feels like God hurts us.  I have recently felt let down by God.  My Dad and I attempted something big for God and it ended up a failure, at least in our eyes.  Remember that definition from earlier- assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”. We felt like we relied on God and His character and we felt let down.  While I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of God’s mind nor do I even understand His thought process I do know He is All-Knowing.  If He wasn’t He couldn’t be God.

Lately I have lost my job and I have had to move a few hundred miles from my family.  I am able to go home and see my wife and kids every other weekend.  I have put out numerous resumes and I haven’t received a single call or email in response to them.  I realize that in today’s climate I have it better than most, I have a job, my kids are well fed and clothed and we have a roof over our heads but I sure do miss them.  I miss seeing them every day and tucking them in every night.  I miss falling asleep on the love seat while my wife watches T.V.  I miss Momma’s home cooking (she lives next door) and I miss hanging out with my Brother-in-Law and talking football.  I miss spending time with my Dad and watching my nephews growing bigger.  I miss a lot.  I feel let down by God.  I took a leap of faith and landed on my butt.

But here is what I am learning, trust is hard.  Trust like love, is a decision not a feeling.  I have to decide to trust God.  Faith means believing in something before you see it.  Trust is relying on something or someone before something happens.  I trust my wife to be there for me if I am ever in an accident.  I trust the chair I am sitting in to not collapse.  I trust my van to get me where I am going.  I trust all the time, why then is it so hard to trust God.

The good news is that I am not the first nor am I the only one who has ever struggled with trust issues.  Two prominent figures in the Old Testament had issues with trust.  The first was Moses, yes Moses.  Whole studies have been done on the life of Moses; “Experiencing God” is probably the most well know.  It is a wonderful study and I encourage you to read it but before Moses became the leader of Israel and the tool God used to deliver His people from slavery Moses had trust issues.  Read through Exodus 3 & 4.  Moses doubts Gods call to save Israel.  Moses says, “Who am I?”  Then in chp.4 Moses again distrusts God when he asks, “What if the Israelites don’t believe me?”, and by using the excuse that he is not eloquent enough to be God’s voice to His people.

The second person is David.  God calls David “a man after My own heart” yet still he had trust issues.  In 2 Samuel 24 God tells David not to count his army.  But David, in a lack of trust, counted anyway.  God wanted David’s army to be the size of his faith, not his faith the size of his army.

In the New Testament the disciples are recorded as having several lapses in trust.  Here is one such occasion Mark 4:35-41.  Take a few seconds and read what happened.

So we are not alone.  We are not the first.  And we will not be the last.  We all have trust issues.  We all feel let down.  Thetrust_fall struggle, the battle, the mark of strength is to keep going.  To fight!  Don’t give up.  We need to decide to trust God, even when the world is falling apart, even when OUR world is falling apart, decide to trust Him.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

Trust is a decision, make the decision today!

Trust God With Your Life

Trust God With Your Life and Leave the Consequences to Him

Part 1 on Obedience

unfinished-cross-stitch.jpg We place our trust in a lot of different things don’t we? We trust our bank with our money. We trust our cars to get us from point A to point B. We trust the Weather Channel to give us an accurate weather report (well, maybe not). We trust the chairs that we are sitting in right now not to collapse and deposit us ungracefully on the ground. The problem is that even though we trust these things they eventually let us down. Banks mess up and cost us money (though it never seems to be their mistake), cars break down (my mini-van did so to my wife yesterday), I think the only people surprised by the weather are the people that report it on T.V. and chairs sometimes break (usually when you have a full cup of coffee).

We place our trust in people as well. Does that work? Ask the child whose father hit him in anger or the wife abandoned with a two year old. Ask the church where a pastor has committed a sin that gave the church a big black eye and brought scorn down on them from the community. Talk to the parents of a teen who stole from them or seek out a man that was stabbed in the back at work and therefore passed over for promotion. How about the family of New York’s governor Eliot Spitzer who was linked to a call girl ring and has since stepped down from being governor. I am not into bashing people for what they have done, but he destroyed his family’s trust in him.

May I introduce you to someone who will never let you down, whom you can put complete trust in? His name is God. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” I am not a Pie-in -the-Sky Christ-follower, I realize that sometimes we feel let down not only by things and people but by God Himself. But may I offer you a different view of being let down by God? My wife likes to sew and cross-stitch. She makes some very pretty things. She makes clothes for the kids, blankets, little wall decorations and so on. Here is the crazy part, when she cross-stitches she likes to jump around. She doesn’t do one part at a time, she does one color at a time. At first I can’t see anything of value, it looks very ugly. But as she fills in the rest of it a design of sorts begins to appear. Before long I can make out what the design is, but it is still ugly and unfinished. A few days later (months for her current project) I begin to see the beauty. And when she is finished, BAM- it looks awesome. Now my wife has the picture in her head from the beginning of what it will look like when she is done and she is carefully adding colors and stitches to bring that beauty out a little at a time. She knows the end result, the process isn’t pretty, nor is it neat (I am constantly finding little pieces of colored string in my pockets at work and on our towels) but the end is worth it. The pay-out bears the cost. Our lives are that cross-stitch, or tapestry if you will, and God is the seamster ( is that a guy seamstress?) He lovingly adds a stitch here and a stitch there, occasionally we mess up by not following Him and He has to take some of the thread back out and work it in again.

Sometimes it looks ugly, but as He continues to sew, a beautiful picture emerges, we begin to look a little like His Son, (Reflections of a Mirror- showing Jesus to the world, cool how that worked out). Looking at an unfinished project we may think God screwed up, but seeing the finished project we will know that unlike my wife, he never screwed up. Actually, there is another comparison to my wife in this analogy, she pricks her finger all the time, and sometimes blood will get on the project, but here the comparison ends, because if she can’t clean the blood from the canvass she throws it away.

God also pricked His finger while sewing the tapestry of our lives, but His wasn’t a mistake. He allowed nails to be driven through His hands and feet and the blood that falls onto the canvas of our lives doesn’t stain us but it cleanses us. “the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (last part) God has a different view of our lives, He sees the finished work of art, not the messiness in the middle. When we trust in Him and let him lead us we can be sure that He will guide us straight a true, no matter what life looks like to us.

Remember- Who has a better perspective- the ant looking up or the person looking down? So then who has a better perspective- us looking up or God looking down?