Thursday, September 17, 2015

Musings on Tough Questions

But again they did not understand His meaning, and they were afraid to ask Him for an explanation. Mark 9:32

Time and again the disciples were puzzled by the teachings of Jesus.  Imagine being in that same place day after day... retiring with Jesus to a remote place and scratching your head re: what you just heard.  The crowds were confused.  You're part of His entourage and afraid to let Him know you're in the same boat.  Hmmm.
For some reason we think hanging out with Jesus means everything is gonna be crystal clear.  

"My thoughts are not your thoughts..."
 God spoke through the prophet Isaiah (55:8).
"I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you."  Psalm 73:22
I was relieved to read "Doubt is the halfway house to faith."  Os Guinness
How can we be immersed in the fundamentals of our faith without becoming a fundamentalist (prideful, arrogant, exclusive, without mercy)?
We can be genuine followers of Jesus and still work our way through doubt to a place of deeper trust and faith.
Back to the disciples...
In John 14 we see Philip doing what many of us do, asking Jesus to make everything clear and then we'll be ok. Jesus says, I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you know Me, you know the Father. Rest assured now; you know Him and have seen Him.  (14:6-7)
Lord, all I am asking is that You show us the Father.  (14:8 Philip's request)
I have lived with you all this time, and you still don’t know who I am? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. How can you keep asking to see the Father? (14:9)
It's like He is saying, "Hey, check it out.  I'm here.  Even in seasons of question and doubt.  I am good.  It will all get sorted. And it's better to hang out with Me."'

Thursday, June 4, 2015

An Hour of Peace


A couple celebrities were recently discussing the struggle to be part of a faith community because of being constantly bombarded by people. They were asked, “If you attended a weekly worship service, what is the one thing you would like to experience?” Both said without hesitation, “an hour of peace.”

Isn’t that what we all want? Not only once a week, but all the time?

Jesus said, ”I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give.” John 14:27

Interesting Jesus said there is a peace this world can give but it's often short-lived and unreliable. It is peace dependent on good circumstances- no storms, no troubles, no conflict. Or it may be a medicated peace- dependent on ingesting the next drug of choice. A young man relayed a few weeks ago, with clear eyes (and constricted pupils), this was the first time in 10 years he had not been high on something and how weird it was to feel and see things he hadn’t felt and seen for so long…

But Jesus said he gives His peace to us. Imagine that. The same peace Jesus has is what He gives to you.

His peace doesn’t depend on absence of conflict. He doesn’t fall off his chair when you tell Him what’s going on in your life. He doesn’t see obstacles as impossible. He desires to give peace, and to take action in response to your prayers!

Just think about the peace Jesus had, facing personal attack, limited resources, family rejection, flaky friends, misunderstanding, loneliness, twisting of his words, unrealistic expectations, threat of drowning, threat of being murdered, etc. Can you imagine in all those situations He never once freaked out? And that same peace is what He will give you?!

All you have to do is ask.

But it isn’t quite that simple. Asking isn’t the same as putting money in a vending machine and out pops the peace. It is predicated upon relationship. His peace flows from Him to you, His life in you.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3

That’s why our experience of His peace can increase as we read the Bible, as we pray, as we worship together, as we confess our sins: all as we connect with Him…
Can you experience an hour of peace in the middle of a crazy-busy-frantic life? Absolutely. Just open the door of your mind and heart to Jesus. And keep coming back to those places where you experience His peace.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 The Message

Friday, February 27, 2015

Showing Up on Time

car-driving-watch"This is many times the most important thing you can do in following Jesus..."  I was waiting as Bob was going to share some profound insight. "You just need to show up on time."

Seriously?  I've pondered that over the years. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is show up on time.? What does it mean to show up?

First of all it doesn't mean attendance. You can attend something and not really show up. You can go grocery shopping and not show up, checked out and unaware of the person next to you. You can go out to eat with a friend and not show up, as you spend time "connecting" with others via FB, text and email.

We all tend to hide and find it unnatural to show up, to be present.
Think about the last 24 hours. In what situations were you present with others? Present in the sense of being aware of them, their story, their feelings, listening, asking questions, and listening some more. It is so easy to fly through the day and not really connect with anyone.
Same thing in our relationship with Jesus. Showing up is being aware of Jesus; looking for what He is doing, prayerfully listening to what He might be saying, being restful, not trying to make anything happen, yet exerting some courageous effort in response to His compassion.
Most of the time I'm not courageous at all, yet sometimes I bumble my way into a moment when God shows up.
 I was in the airport waiting about 45 minutes for some friends to arrive. Standing there behind the metal fence, this guy was going on about his exploits and accomplishments.  He was quite talkative. And asking almost every person who walked through the doors where they were from...
At first I was embarrassed, then a little annoyed.  Others were rolling their eyes, and looking down at their phones. I was trying to listen, while wondering if I should assume another quieter position about 20 feet away.

In the back of my mind was this thought, "just listen..."  Then it came out.  He was deeply pained over his son who just entered a treatment center. He didn't know what to do. He was watching alcoholism destroy his son. Wow. As my friends arrived I shook the guy's hand and offered to pray for his son. He looked at me, incredulous. And hopeful.
Showing up on time. Easily distracted. Hard to be present. Trying to listen, to others and to Jesus. God is so amazing.
A simple prayer:
Lord have mercy on me. Help me to show up on time today.
Make me aware of Your great love for me, and for others.
Help me to listen in the middle of commotion and busyness.
Remind me to pray and listen.
Give me your heart.
And give me courage to respond to Your quiet voice.