Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Just got back from our mission trip to Seattle yesterday.  It was an adventure!!  Bus 1’s radiator started going out on the second day of the trip and they needed to get it replaced.  The bus company lined up a replacement bus to help drive us to our work sites in Seattle.  On Monday morning we walked onto the ferry to Seattle as two of our buses lined up to load onto the ferry.  Due to low tide they would not allow the buses onto the ferry.  So we set off to serve in Seattle with our lunches and water on the buses.  Yet the replacement bus was already at the ferry depot, waiting to provide rides.  Coincidence?

Abraham sent his servant to a far away land to find a bride for his son Isaac.  He sought a woman from God’s people living in a distant land.  There was no previous arrangement of connections – just go and find a willing bride.  A woman willing to leave her family and homeland, to go to a far land and marry a man she has never met.  Sounds easy, huh?  No wonder the servant doubted.  Bot, lo and behold, the first woman he meets at the well in Rebekah and she is willing to go and marry Isaac.  And her family is willing too so they bless her and the rest is history.  Coincidence?  I think not.

There were many other instances on our mission trip where we were able to look back and see God’s hand at work.  I’m sure there are many instances in your life where you can see the hand of God at work also.  If you think not – look harder – they are there.  God is a part of our lives.  The more open and inviting we are to His presence, the more we come to know that presence.  Hear His promise: “I will not forg et you!  See, I have engraved you on the palm of My hands.” (Isaiah 49: 15-16)

Scripture reference: Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-49, and 58-67

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Receive the Blessing

When the 72 are sent out by Jesus, they take next to nothing with them.  They head out to share Jesus with others and are trusting that those they encounter will care for them.  If not, they will simply move on.

I wondered if I could d this – just head off and trust God to provide.  Could you?  To me it would be hard to rely on the welcome and care of total strangers for my basic needs.

And for some of us, it is hard to be the receivers.  We can give and provide for others and even for those in need.  But t be the one in need is doubly difficult in our independent, self-reliant society.  For some it is even hard to take in a compliment!

Yet our willingness to accept the gift or the hospitality allows someone else to offer the presence of Christ to us.  At times, we just need to receive it and spend a little time in the blessing.

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 40-42

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Practicing Presence

At the Passover meal, Jews today still set an empty (or extra) place at the table in hopes that Elijah will come.  In some Christian homes and communities we set a ‘Christ plate’ with the same basic idea.  Both long for the presence of the King.

During his ministry, Jesus often chose to engage and spend time with the least.  He was all about providing that space at the ‘table’ for them.  He welcomed all shapes of life into His world and continues to do so.  Jesus knew that God loves all equally and fully, so He treated all that way.

As we return from a week of mission work in Seattle, I am full of memories of Youth and adults alike who chose to engage people in need.  It is easier to do so on a mission trip because it is ‘expected’ but by practicing hospitality, generosity, and love each of us are now better prepared to extend these things in our normal, everyday lives.

In our encounters this week and in the weeks ahead, we will encounter Jesus in some we meet.  In other encounters people will experience Jesus through us.  What a blessing it is to be in and to share the presence of our living savior, Jesus Christ.

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 40-42

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Living into Reality

Do you remember a radical life change?  Maybe it was after your first job or after your first child.  Maybe it was after s divorce or the loss of a loved one.  For all of us change is inevitable.  It is also hard to change.

When change cones we can embrace it or we can resist it.  When we resist our new identity or reality, it is a struggle.  The resistance takes a toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

If we choose instead to embrace our new life, we begin to live into it.  Our new way of life becomes our new DNA.  We begin to become the person God intended us to be.

As we practice our new identity as Christians, we must embrace it.  Our call is 24/7.  Through the practices of prayer, worship, study, and service we grow into who God created us to be.

Scripture reference: Romans 6: 12-23

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Tell the Story!

New life often begins in the spring.  It can be a flower poking through or the first buds on a tree beginning to show.  The signal of new life puts a bit of a bounce in your step and hope in your heart.

The promises of God’s faithfulness, love, and the hope of salvation do the same thing.  The sight of an older couple holding hands as they walk or the awe that settles in at the birth of a child remind us of life to the full.  Of the life God desires for us.

Yet at times in life we can feel trapped or stuck.  The sense of bring lost or of simply being tired can rob us of seeing the life God offers.  Thankfully in these seasons and timed of life we can rest into God and find renewal in His word.  These experience become part of our story.

We are called to be disciples and to make disciples.  When we share these stories of God’s promise and God’s hand in our lives, we are giving others a step towards God.  It is through these stories of faith that God becomes more real for others.  Be a good storyteller.

Scripture reference: Psalm 13: 5-6

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He Is There

It is pretty easy for me, at times, to wonder where God is.  To question why this or that worked out the way it did.  To wrestle, seemingly alone, with some big decision or dilemma before me.

Our Hod is s big God.  He created the universe st a word.  He designed every one of us as a unique and special creation.  We are dearly loved.  He longs to be in relationship with us.

Yet we commonly feel we cannot bring God our anger, our frustration, our pain.  Maybe we feel we might hurt God’s feelings.  But when we are feeling we can’t do it alone, it is then we most need to kneel before God.  It is then that we most need to go to the Father.

Its against our nature to depend on another.  But that is how God designed us – to be in relationship with one another.  Go to God.  Talk with your friend.  He is there.

Scripture reference: Psalm 13: 1-4

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Holy Indifference

Abraham exhibited great faith, without hesitation, as he willingly and obediently heads off to sacrifice his one and only son.  Isaac is the one they had waited so long for.  It is a great example of holy indifference.  This is the act or lifestyle of setting all emotions and preferences in order to follow God’s call in one’s life.

The concept of holy indifference is one I am drawn to but most often fall short of.  How easy it is for me to throw in a ‘but’.  Sometimes it is a but not now or a but not there.  I act as if I know the plan better than God does.

To act and hold all so lightly in my life that I keep nothing from God and obey all He commands – what w way to live!!  May my life grow in faith so that His will is my only will.

Scripture reference: Genesis 22: 1-8

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Fear Not!

Our faith must be humble – if we exalt our own faith and try to lord it over others, we have missed Jesus’ example.  He came to love and serve, not to judge and condemn.

Even though we may have faith, fear can keep us from doing much.  God wants us to lat aside our fears.  He offers us reassurances.  In our times when we don’t think we know the answer – trust in the Holy Spirit.  We are reminded by Jesus that all will be revealed and he will be with us always.  In times when we are concerned for our well-being, we can rest assured of His care for us.  We are worth more than many sparrows.

When we choose to own our relationship w/God, He will choose to own us as well.  He longs for us to acknowledge Him and to be connected to Him.  God desires to pour blessings out upon us.  May we be willing and open to His vast love!!

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 24-33

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Count the Cost

Remember this song – “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus – no turning back, no turning back”?  How well the author knew our human condition!  The walk of faith can be hard and it can be challenging to stay the course.

Jesus knew well the cost of discipleship.  He faced rejection and ridicule and was often outcast.  When He spoke of man against father and daughter against mother, He was speaking of the possible opposition our faith may bring us.  He knew it may come with a cost.

At times our commitment to our faith will cost us things.  It may cost us relationships, a promotion at work, or the way we are called to do business may run counter to the world’s way and cost us customers or income.  Jesus knew our faith may cost us.

Jesus wants us to choose Him.  There will be no forcing us.  It is a free choice.  Maintaining our faith continues to be a free choice.  But it is free in choice only.  Are we willing to choose authentic faith and to gladly count the cost?

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 34-39

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Love Joy Hope

Have you ever gone to put on your favorite jeans and thought, “Oh – a little tight”?  Ever had those last couple Oreos and then felt the guilt settle in?  Remember that comment that slipped out and you knee the regret even before the last syllable sounded?  Me too!

Yes, we all sin.  We all fall short.  And we are all under God’s grace and love too!!  Paul writes in Romans 6 of our making the choice to die to sin and to live for Christ.  In crucifying the old self that lived sin, we are choosing to live differently.  We are choosing to begin to live a life of live, joy, and hope.

And they lived happily ever after….  You neither?  Although sin and death continue to be realities of our human existence, once we live for Christ they lose their ultimate power over us.  Christ controls our eternity.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist the pull of sin.

As we live into our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are always being changed to be more and more Christ-like.  Our love of Jesus and our desire and will to live for Him works in us to continue to diminish the pull of sin.  Yes, I may still want those last few Oreos and occasionally I will want to eat my words, but Christ continues His work in me.  None of us are complete.  But with Jesus’ love, joy, and hope we grow more and more like Him each day.

Scripture reference: Romans 6: 1b-11