Category: discipleship

God’s Good News For Our Bad News

Roy and Pandora Close Up

God gave me the opportunity to preach at Sandhills Community Church in Columbia, SC on July 2.  My text was Revelation 1:4-8.

In the first 4 minutes I explained our new adventure which includes church starting and leadership coaching.

Whatever “BAD NEWS” is touching your life — God has GOOD NEWS to touch the hard painful places.  The good news centers on our God who IS, who WAS, and who is TO COME.  Enjoy!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SERMON.

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS

Learning to See

Quotes from PURSUING GOD’S WILL TOGETHER by Ruth Haley Barton
Learning to See
 
Most people do not see things as they are; rather, they see things as they are.             Richard Rohr


In fact, the spiritual journey can be understood as the movement from seeing God nowhere, or seeing God only where we expect to see him, to seeing God everywhere, especially where we least expect him.


Discernment is an ever-increasing capacity to “see” or discern the works of God in the midst of the human situation so that we can align ourselves with whatever it is that God is doing.

I do not believe God hides his will and we must discover it. God is working all the time around us and we must be looking to see it.

WHAT HELPS YOU SEE GOD’S HAND?

The Ministry of “Scattering”

RoyGLRetrSep2010dJohn 16: 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. . .

Just below the surface of my life I can be wrestling with several agendas…
Follow Jesus and no turning back or falling away,

OR
Live for a safe, comfortable life,

OR
Avoid pain or rejection,

OR
Preserve the current reality and refuse to go into the future. . .

these and many more conflicting life ambitions and motives simmer like pots on a stove competing for my attention.

Don’t be surprised that God will engineer circumstances to expose the confusion I am tolerating.  It requires faith, mixed with courage, and the strength of the Spirit to put a knife in the throat of any goal — save one — STAY WITH JESUS.

Oswald Chambers, MY UPMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, April 4

“Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. . . .

We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. . . 

But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. . . .

“. . . you . . . will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us?”

Making Myself Blind…Forfeiting God’s Peace

Luke 19: 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Notice in verse 41 Jesus concern for they could have known that would given them peace and in verse 44 what they failed to know that forfeited their peace.

When I think I am walking with God I can be deceiving myself.  Like the people Jesus weeps over on what the church calls “Palm Sunday” we can totally miss what God is doing.  The King had come among them and they were too busy doing business and evaluating what was occurring by how it impacted their agenda.  Pride is a blindness that comes from lies I am believing.  Pride makes God weep because of what is missed, lost and ignored of God’s working around us.  Pride pulls patches over the eyes of our heart and makes us stumble right into the hands of our enemies.

What happens right after Jesus’ tears?  He upsets the polluting of the temple grounds and calls the people back to God’s mission.  How did the spiritual leaders respond to the confrontation and teaching?  They were plotting for how they could kill the God – Man King.

What is blinding me?

How is pride making me miss God’s work in my life?

Jesus weeps because the people were responsible for their choices and would harvest a terrible loss.

(Much thanks to Oswald Chambers MY UPMOST… April 3 reading)  Quotes from his reading that stirred my reflection —

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in this your day”?. . .Do you have a strange god—not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? . . . I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes. . . . These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been!. . . Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.

Angry! Pay Attention and Probe for the Root

I am not angry as often or as passionately as when I was younger.  I finally realized that much of my anger was rooted in sensing that life was getting out of my control.  Once I began to live daily expecting God to be in control instead of me much of the pressure came off.

BUT — I still forget and try to run the universe, and I then use the intensity of anger to register my complaint and seek to whip others and my circumstances into the shape I desire.  I also encounter angry people.  It is challenging to find yourself under attack and to respond with the love of Christ.   It drives me to pray and seek God’s strengthening and wisdom by the Spirit so I can offer a genuine Christ like response.  I have to catch myself quickly and not just let my anger be fueled by the other person’s attack.

This word of God to Cain helps me to always remember.

Genesis 4:6-7 (ESV)  6  The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Anger is like a flashing red light on the car’s dashboard.

There is something wrong under the hood.  Putting black tape over the red light on the dash will not make the problem go away.

Much of my anger reveals my fear of life being out of my control.  In other words I don’t trust God with my life.

Remember this verse the next time you feel anger bubbling up.

Substitute your name for Cain’s.

Ask God to help me see what is crouching in the shadows of my life door.

Ask Him to give you the power of the Spirit to rule over IT… deal with the temptation/sin and the anger will subside.

My big mistake — thinking I need to just choke on, stifle, or go find a wall to hit — to put my focus on the anger.  Does not work.  Instead focus on the source, the trigger of the anger.

Do you struggle with anger? What are you learning?  Angry people cannot be life giving leaders.

 

 

Remember! Images to Help Christians Stay on Track

See the 4 images Paul uses as anchor points for the Christian in the passage below.

2 Timothy 2:1-9 (ESV)

1  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.3  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.5  An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.6  It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.7  Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.8  Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9  for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!  

Soldier – Conqueror, Overcomer, Victorious (See: John 16:33; 1 John 4:4, 5:4-5; Rom 8:37-39; 1 Cor 15:57-58; 2 Cor 2:14 also: 2 Sam 22:32-43; Ps 18:34)

  1. Loyal to those over him.
  2. Carries out orders avoiding distraction or competing voices. “I follow Jesus, and only Jesus”.
  3. My greatest distracting voice is my self.
  4. Soldiers are in a life and death struggle.  To be an overcomer I must first be overcome.

Athlete – Training, Competing, Discipline (See: Lk 6:40; 1 Cor 9:24-25; 1 Tim 4:6-16; Titus 2: 4,12; 2 Tim 3:16; Heb 5:14; Heb 12:11)

  1. Knows & Abides by rules — What is God pleasing? That is what I want.
  2. Train = control, focus, intense focus on a goal/finish line
  3. “Temperate” in all things

Farmer – Vineyard worker, harvest, fruit, Steward/manager (See: Psalm 126, 128, Is 5:4, 55:10-13; Mt 9:37-38; Mt 13:1-9, 18-23; Mt 12:24-33, 35-43; Mk 4:26-29; John 4:35-39; I Cor 3:5-9; 2 Cor 9:10; James 5:7)

  1. Faithful, Enduring, with hope for harvest
  2. Knows limits — I have a vital contribution but God brings the growth
  3. Works very hard on the right thing at the right time w/ the right motive.

Jesus – Risen King, Son of David/Living Word of God

  1. THE conqueror
  2. THE athlete
  3. THE farmer
  4. He is not bound; not limited; and is always working and resting.

What does BEING a soldier, athlete, and farmer who remembers Jesus look like right now in my life?

I am one of  his troops sent on a mission.  

I am sent as an athlete to wave the flag and represent my heavenly country of citizenships in the race of life.  

I am laboring in his fields and honored to be seeing his harvest coming in.

STOP — think about these verses and let those image speak to you.  Follow the advice in verse 7.”Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

Learning From My Mom in ICU

RoyGLRetrSep2010dIt is Labor Day weekend.  I have joined my Dad and other family members in and around ICU since Friday.  My Mom had a brain bleed Thurs afternoon. She has been in a deep sleep broken by short periods of wakefulness with her eyes open, no speech, little recognition and limited responses.
Because of personal circumstances in my own life over the last 4 months I have been doing a Bible Study on God’s Comfort. This study has led into many passages but Isaiah 40-66 and 2 Corinthians have been central stopping points.  The question driving my reflection: “How does God comfort His children?”
Sunday I sat with my Mom and read my Scripture reading out loud with her.  Somehow I understand things differently when I also hear myself read them out loud, slowly and with feeling.
When I read Isaiah 46:3-4 I paused and almost laughed out loud —
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb. . .
The place of comfort for us is resting in the arms of the God who made us, bears us along, carries and saves us.
I don’t remember my time in the womb of this woman to whom I am reading.  I don’t remember being ushered into this world from her body. BUT I have been blessed to worship the God who knows all those events in my life.  They happened on his watch; under his leading and strength.
Isaiah continues, “even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.”
Now I stroke my Mom’s snow white hair and my own hair is getting more and more like hers.  I paused in my reading and with a smile (yes, a smile in ICU) I whispered in her ear, Mom our Lord God is still carrying you.
Comfort is knowing He has never left us.  He has delighted to save us rebels, not unlike our distant cousin, Jacob. He MADE, BEARS, CARRIES AND SAVES us all of our days!  What a great place to be.  It invades all of the places of this world — ICU included— with his glorious hands and love.  Comfort fills the spaces in our hearts as we give ourselves to adoring our God.