FULLY ALIVE!

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


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Hold the Ketchup, Please

I should have known that it was coming.

Life has been good. Real good! I retired – for the second time. I spent the summer resting. It was wonderful. I read. I cooked. I napped. I rediscovered trash TV. (Thankfully I am over that now!) But even better – I prayed. I journaled. I began this blog. Did I say I napped? Yes, it was all good!

Then my phone rang. It was a job offer. It seemed good, so I said, “Why not?”

Then an email came. The very next day. It was a job offer. It was something I thought I’d enjoy, so I said, “Sure.”

I’d forgotten that I had registered for three seminary classes, but still I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I could balance it all. And so, after about 60 days of sweet, blissful rest, I returned to the world of work and homework. My days (and nights) are busy, but they are enjoyable. The pace and culture are very different from my last season of work. I soon got caught up in setting my new calendars, meeting new people, rethinking my days and even shopping for a few new outfits because the hose and heels weren’t necessary every day. I got caught up in this new life which was such a change and such a relief from the past that I forgot.

I forgot the warnings of 1 Peter 5:8-9. I forgot to be self-controlled and alert because my enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour.

But he didn’t forget, and this week he came. The prowling enemy. The devil. He sought to devour. He sought to steal my joy, to make me doubt, to make me second guess myself and my work, to thwart the success I was experiencing, to scatter obstacles in my path, to confuse my mind and to trouble my spirit.

He caught me off guard because I was having such a good time in life. He opened wide his jaws to devour me. And at the first snap of his teeth, I gave up. But thank God I quickly regained my senses and my footing. I realized that the devil may come, actually the devil will come to devour, BUT I don’t have to spread the ketchup on myself making me all the more tasty for him.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? At the first nip we give up and give in. We surrender to him our thoughts, our sleep, our peace and our joy. Rather, we should fight against him. Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), refuse to lose sleep understanding that our Lord never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), hold fast to the peace that our Lord has given us (John 14:27) and guard our joy realizing that it is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Too often we have given the devil far more credit than he is due. He is NOT an all-powerful being who is the evil equivalent of God. He and God are NOT two equal forces in opposition to each other – one good and one evil, one light and one dark. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. He us under the foot of Christ and, therefore, under out foot.  As we submit to God and intentionally resist the devil, we can enforce the victory Jesus won thereby forcing Satan to flee from us.

Hold the ketchup. Please!

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Who You Gonna Run To?

DISCLAIMER…SPOILER ALERT…EXCUSE…whatever you want to call it.  I am telling you up front, there is yet another Alvin Slaughter song linked to this message.  I don’t know what it is or why it is – maybe I am in my Alvin Slaughter CD Season of Life.  Nevertheless, stop right here, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKhejMWTJPo, listen to the song then come back.

Imagine the following scenarios.

  1. It’s an exciting time in your life. You’ve been working on your advanced college degree, and graduation is just around the corner.  Already you’d begun interviewing for new jobs, and you just snagged one of your dreams.  You begin a new job, graduate and (here’s a bonus) celebrate Christmas – all in a matter of weeks.  You come home to share the good news with your spouse and find a note on the kitchen counter.  It reads, “I don’t think I want to be married anymore, so I’ve moved some things out.  I’ll be in touch.”
  2. You’re tired, but who isn’t these days, so you just keep pushing; things are bound to slow down soon and you’ll get some rest. You get a note in your inbox that you need to telephone your doctor’s office, so you do during your break.  Reception transfers you to the nurse who tells you – over the telephone – that your lab results didn’t look good.  “Actually,” she says, “it looks like you have Cancer.”
  3. Home from the hospital. Alone in bed.  Healing from surgery.  Other people might consider it a bad thing, but this is a good time for you to catch up on your rest, think some things through and craft a new vision and plan for your life – between naps because the Percocet has you drifting in and out of sleep.  The phone rings.  It is the IRS.  They have some questions about your past six tax returns.

Can you imagine?

My question for you, despite whichever scenario you imagined, “What do you do?”

Let’s see.

Scenario 1:  Call a Divorce Attorney?  Phone a girlfriend?  Watch Oprah and Dr. Phil?

Scenario 2:  Get a second opinion?  Google your symptoms?  Start saying your Good-byes?

Scenario 3:  Contact an online loan counselor?  Buy boxes and schedule a moving company?

Perhaps a better question is, Who do you run to?  (Yes, I know it should be To Whom do you run?)

Often we choose from those mentioned above – attorneys, girlfriends, Dr. Phil, Google – or others like them.

John 16:33a (NIV) says, “…In this world you will have trouble…” There is not one of us who cannot testify to the truth of this Scripture. But do you know the truth of the rest of this Scripture? There is encouragement. There is hope. There is a promise. There is a command. There is very present help. We are told to “take heart” because our Lord has “overcome the world.” If we are obedient and look to Him, the source of our help (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).

Girlfriends are great. I know, I have been blessed with the best. I’ve called a few attorneys and moving companies in my lifetime, and I wish that I had stock in Google. I’ve even watched a couple of episodes of Dr. Phil. But I want the truth of my life to be that when in times of “trouble, pain and fears,” I run to the Lord. Not crawl. Not walk. Not as an afterthought. Not after I have consulted all those other sources.

First. Immediately. Naturally. Readily. Faithfully. Expectantly.

Always.

Lord, I run to you.

Because I didn’t have to imagine those scenarios.