FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Hurry Up; the Red Light is Coming!

My father taught me to drive.

If you knew him, you would find that statement scary.

Let me be clear; I loved my father.  In the words of my paternal grandmother, I loved him better than Peter loved the Lord.  I was probably 30 years old before I thought he could do wrong.  He and I were like two peas in a pod.  We would stay up late at night talking and laughing.  My mother would scream down the hall, “Go to bed you two!”  And he and I would laugh and keep talking.

My sister and I were reminiscing just recently.

Who got up when we were coughing during the night?  Daddy.  He gave you some cough syrup and poured most of it down your pajamas because he was still half asleep.

Who made you rake the leaves with him and then let you jump into the pile?  Daddy.  Then we raked them again and tied them in big white sheets.

Who woke you up in the middle of the night, carried you on his back to the car and took you (still in PJs) to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts because it was time for the “Hot Now” sign?  Daddy!

And who taught me to drive?  Daddy.

Now, I loved him, but he was a horrible driver.  He wrecked his cars and then he wrecked my first car.  He would speed to work every morning because he never left home in time.  He passed 2, 3, 4 cars at a time.  He fell asleep at traffic lights then took off when the lanes next to him moved and crashed into the rear end of those in front of him.  Forgive me for telling this, Daddy – but He passed a stopped school bus or two in his day.  And he told me (true story) that the yellow light meant “hurry up ‘cause the red light’s coming.”  Once I put on brakes as I approached the intersection and the light was changing.  He said, “No, squeeze the lemon!”

Isn’t that what we do when God seems slow to move?  When He doesn’t answer, doesn’t move, doesn’t open the door, we rush ahead of Him to make things happen in our desired timing.  But, in the words of Dr. Phil, “How has that worked for you?”  Impatience and acting independently of God does not work.  He asks for our obedience, and red lights are often part of His strategy and plan. We read in Revelations 3:7 (NIV) that “what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.”

In Genesis we learn of Joseph who waited years for the fulfillment of a God-given dream. Read the story; the wait was more than worth it. God opened a door wide for him and to the benefit of his family. If He did it for Joseph, He will do it for you.

God’s timing is perfect. Obey His signals – including His red lights and yellow lights. As Joyce Meyer says, “Trusting God brings life; believing brings rest.”

And patience brings green lights!


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Launch Out Into the Deep

Summer has ended and fall has truly begun – not just on the calendar, but in the weather.  We’ve had some really cool nights and mornings.  I love the change in the seasons, especially between summer and fall.  But I’m a little sad, too.  This summer seemed to fly, and it is the first summer in years that we did not get to the beach.  Once.  Never.  Not even a drive by.

I am really fortunate to live about an hour’s drive from the ocean – the real beach!  Ponds are nice.  Lakes are lovely.  But nothing compares to the ocean.  Waves lapping.  Squishy sand between your toes.  Seashells and Seagulls.  Sometimes we’ve driven to the beach just for a walk along the shore.  With sandals in hand we let the waves wash over our feet, and we occasionally stoop to pick up shells.

That’s a good day – walking hand-in-hand with someone you love along the water’s edge.  But to really enjoy (and experience) the ocean, you have to go beyond the shore.

The same is true with life.  The same is true in ministry.  We have to go beyond the shore.

“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.  Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke 5:1-4 KJV)

Obediently, but possibly with some hesitancy, Simon launched out.  Isn’t this His command for us, too? Aren’t we to launch out into the deep doing what our Lord commands? No excuses. No hanging around the periphery? No sticking with the familiar and the comfortable. No waiting for something to wash up onshore.

Faith can bring the most unexpected of miracles. Verses 6 and 7 of Luke 5 (KJV) tells us that when Simon and his men had done what was commanded, “they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”

Faith is about action. We can say that we have faith, but faith without works is dead (James 2:20 KJV). Simon could have responded to the Master, “Thank you for letting us know that there are fish in the lake. Wow, we were wondering since we didn’t catch any. Maybe we’ll go out tomorrow night.”

Faith requires us to yield – our thinking, our possessions, ourselves. Our Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and neither are His ways our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) We must trust His commands and be quick to obey them.

As Alvin Slaughter sings, “…by faith we must climb into the boat, and follow His command” letting our faith take us somewhere that we’ve never been before. “Launch out, Launch out into the deep.”

Launch Out (by Alvin Slaughter)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVhSy8Ql6AQ

“Sometimes we hold on a little longer than we should   Letting go can be hard but it’s sometimes for our good   The fear of what’s ahead sometimes makes us fall behind.  We can see the times are changing but pretend that we’re so blind   You’ll never really know just what the future holds   But we know God holds us in His hand.   So by faith we must climb into the boat; And follow His command.  

CHORUS   Launch out into the deep. Let your faith take you somewhere that you’ve never been before.  Launch out into the deep. Let your faith make you fly. Let your faith make you soar.  Launch out, Launch out into the deep.”


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TGIF!

“Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing…” (Luke 5:1-5a, NASB)

The last thing fishermen do is wash the nets and pack them up, and that is what Simon and the others were doing. It had been a long night. They had worked hard. And caught nothing!

Are you right there with them? Been a long day? A long week? Are you glad that it’s finally Friday? Feel like washing the nets, packing them up and heading home – or somewhere other than where you are? So did the disciples. But over walks Jesus and tells them to put out into the deep and let their nets down for a catch. Excuse me? Isn’t this omniscient Jesus who already knows that they’ve been at it all night? Doesn’t He see them washing the nets? Surely He understands the routine – washing the nets means we are quitting?

Yep, that’s Jesus. He waits until we get to the end – not of the rope, but of ourselves. Because as long as we believe that we are in control and that we can handle things, we don’t look to Him. We don’t listen to Him. We don’t seek Him. We don’t follow Him.

Let’s look back at the Scriptures. Luke 5:5-6 (NASB) says, “Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break.” How did the disciples go from packing the nets to breaking the nets with a heavy catch? Immediate surrender (of their own thinking), immediate acknowledgement (of the command) and immediate obedience (to Jesus). Jesus said, “Put out…and let down your nets.” Simon said, “I will do as You say.”

If things don’t seem to be working for you, perhaps it’s past time for you to surrender your thinking and look to Jesus. One more thing – look ahead at Verse 11 of this same text. “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”

TGIF! Thank Goodness I Follow!


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Risk or Trivial Pursuit?

Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

Actually we apply a lot of metaphors to this journey called life. Oops, there was one right there! Perhaps you’ve compared life to riding an elevator. It has a lot of ups and downs and someone is always pushing your buttons. Sometimes you get the shaft, but what really gets you are the jerks. Or maybe for you, life is like cooking. It all depends on what you add and how you mix it. Sometimes you follow the recipe; at other times you just throw something together. Or maybe one of these best suits you:

Life is like a novel. You are the author and every day is a new page.

Life is like photography. We develop from negatives.

Life is like money. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.

Life is like an onion. You peel off layer after layer and sometimes you weep.

Life is like a pencil. Sometimes you are sharpened. Sometimes you correct your mistakes. Always you leave a mark.

I think life is often like a game or at least that is how we play it. Something like Trivial Pursuit. We drift from day to day without a plan and without purpose, and we focus a lot of energy on things that don’t really matter. Like what we wear. Or what we drive. Or where we live. And what people say about us. All of these are trivial. Our focus should be what is important to God – what matters to Him.

Consider Psalm 50:7-15 (MSG), Scripture that you likely don’t read every day:

“Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak; Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial. This is God, your God, speaking to you. I don’t find fault with your acts of worship, the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer. But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,  or more and more goats from your herds? Every creature in the forest is mine,  the wild animals on all the mountains. I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends. If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?  All creation and its bounty are mine. Do you think I feast on venison? or drink draughts of goats’ blood? Spread for me a banquet of praise,  serve High God a feast of kept promises, And call for help when you’re in trouble—  I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

Did you get it?

He said, “This is God. I’m telling you what matters to me, and it’s not your religion, and show and rules even though you are following the laws and traditions of sacrifice.” For us today He might say, “I could care less about your fancy sanctuaries and what you wear to church and all those programs you have and rules you have made up. All of that is trivial.”

What God wants is faithfulness, obedience, full trust in Him, kept promises and praise, lots of praise, genuine praise, a “banquet of praise.”

Are you serious? Doesn’t God realize that we need those rules and procedures, rituals and hierarchies?

No, He doesn’t.

He wants you, challenges you, calls for you to step away from all of that and to risk simply loving, following and praising Him. And not just on Sunday. Every day. Every moment. He wants you to love Him with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27, NIV)

I think He’d rather you play a game of Risk instead of Trivial Pursuit.

Your move.