Archive for November, 2013

Chess pieces – left to right: king, rook, quee...

Chess pieces – left to right: king, rook, queen, pawn, knight and bishop. Photo taken by Alan Light. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is challenging to play chess. It is really challenging to play with a timer. But it is beyond our loftiest expectations to let God into the game. We move chess pieces around trying to conquer or combat another’s move hoping to somehow grab the queen and take out the king. We sacrifice pawns like throwing away French fries (who could really do that?). But what if God was in control of the game? He would not always be focused on the next move but would often surprise us when he moves the chess board. How would you feel about that?

God really does have our best interest in mind and is more in control then we could imagine. We must learn to hold our plans with our hands open not clenched. Think about Paul-the guy always was focused on going into new lands to share good news. You know God was more excited about this than going to the wildest amusement park and riding the death spiraling rides. So Paul took off and God got out of his chair not to watch, but to change the route. Acts 16:6 captures this movement of the chess board for Paul and his buddies. No problem because Paul not only knew but also was thrilled with God taking him on a different route than Google Maps had given him.

Or think of the futility of telling your buds that you are moving to Bangor, Maine for a year or so and starting a chain of businesses and then you will be off to Chicago for the big time. But God whispers “take a look at James 4:13 and 14 before you pack the car.”

We carelessly attack every situation with our best ideas, plans and strategies. Why not do it the way God designed life to be lived anyway? He not only wants you and I to trust him with the chess pieces but to be ready for a change we could not imagine as he gently but firmly picks up the chess board.

Do you think you could let God completely determine your next move? How do you know?

God Speaks

God Speaks (Photo credit: 水泳男)

Is hearing God speak like reserved seating where only a few get to get into the event or hear God speak to them? Could it be that God only wants to talk to certain people and not others? And don’t you really need to be careful about the whole deal of God speaking? We remember people drinking poisoned cool-aid because someone said God told them to get others to drink it. Or there’s the story of God telling people to show up on a hill and He would pick them up on Starship 1.

We’re not looking for something dramatic; we would just like to know if God really speaks to ordinary people anyway. The drama goes on and after a while we just forget about the whole deal but our skepticism grows when we hear others announce that God told them… But somewhere deep inside, we wonder.

Our not hearing God speak can be due to several things. I mention only a couple. Hebrews 3:12-15 mentions one of these. We can harden our heart by reading the Word or hearing it taught and not doing anything about it. Repetition of this hardens us to a point where we drift off in a day dream as we read or hear someone speak about the Word, and it eventually results in not doing either.Our conclusion-the idea of God speaking is a joke.

Another was we miss hearing God speak is seen in Isaiah 55:8 and 9. When we come up with our own ideas, plans or expectations and don’t understand that God does not do life the same way we do, we miss hearing Him. The Word on the Street says it direct “…my methods are not in any of your manuals.” Sure there are other reasons we do not hear God, but the truth is that God is apeaking throughout every day. But we have to have ears to hear (that is doing what we hear.)

Get some coffee and hang out with someone this week and talk about this.

Trust

Trust (Photo credit: thorinside)

Isn’t it easy to plan a trip of any kind and get all the details taken care off and then pray and ask God to lead you on this trip? You’ve made all the reservations for the rooms, the raft trip, where you are going to eat and most of the details. Should be a great trip you tell yourself because you’ve got it under control. Somewhere along the way we never seem to have gotten the memo about trusting God and releasing control. Oh, but wait, I believe we do have that one. Just think about what Jesus says in Luke 9:57-62. These are the people who say they want to trust God but also want to hang on to some control.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 Paul lists the hardships he and others encountered on the “non’cruise line” trip. This and other trips like it tested everything in these guys. Could they really trust God to meet their needs and take care of them? They could have thought about their funerals, but they knew God would take care of them. They had released their control.

When we get to a place where it seems beyond our ability to endure or we have despaired of life or anything we can control, then  and only then does trust mean anything. God’s strong and unending purpose is to get us to where we are not in control; that is where we do not rely on ourselves but on Him.

What’s the hardest thing for you to not control? What are you afraid of and what does this teach you about yourself?

Most people like to be involved in discussion things with others. Some discussions connect to reality while others live in space somewhere. Somewhere we began to believe that to know and understand truth was the end game. We relish hearing teachers who parse Greek and Hebrew and bring to light things we never knew existed. Some of this is definitely valuable in understand the original intent of the Biblical writers. But the religious types were those

Application Vac

Application Vac (Photo credit: NeilsPhotography)

who Jesus had some of his most difficult words for. The religious gang knew the stuff but stopped there.

However, these religious types were wrong because they really did not know what God was getting at. Check Matthew 22:29. Jesus wasn’t showing off but trying to get them to see where they were missing the point. You and I can easily fall into this trap and not realize that God intends for us to use what we learn. It must affect our character and lifestyle or it really is useless.

Think about how many times you have listened to a message in either a formal Sunday setting or informally in someone’s home. It was spanking challenging but you left wondering what to do about it. There was no emphasis on how to apply it to your life and since no one really asked what to do about it, you thought that this must be what the Christian life is like.

But you just know there’s got to be more to it, and there is. In John 13:17 Jesus not only taught what being a servant was, he demonstrated how his men could do it and pass it on to others. James, later emphasized in James 1:22-25 that application is a must. Just knowing the manual on sky diving doesn’t get us to jump out of the plane.

Often we need someone in our life who will walk with us through the dark alley of application and together both begin to see the change in lifestyle, attitude and character. Do you have someone like this who will walk with you?

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

We look in the mirror and say that something’s gotta change. However, there is no disappearing act for the extra 20 pounds we want to leave. So we commit to one day a week for 15 minutes to deal with it. It’s obvious to everyone (including ourselves) that we only think we want to get into the smaller size jeans.

But, we say we really do want to share our life with others who are dead serious about walking with Jesus. “I believe I could get together a couple of times a month for maybe an hour if it’s not Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday nights” we say, and we dive in to this life changing event.

Matthew 10:39 quickly separates those who have life changing stories to share from those who love to listen to others share these kinds of stories. There is no discovery without the loss of something else. In this case it is His life for ours. This is the “eat my flesh and drink my blood” seminar by Jesus in John 6. A wise man said in Ecclesiastes 7:8 “…endings are better than beginnings” and in 1 Kings 20:11 it says that it is easy to brag about being ready for a battle but another thing to listen to one who comes back from the battle.

There are people who have concluded that Jesus must have meant something more than what they are experiencing in their life with other Christians, and they are ready to make the commitment to find it with others. Is this something you wake up wanting more than anything else that might happen that day? Ask God to intersect your life with someone else who wakes up thinking that maybe this is the day they will meet you.