First, Here is an excellent blog by my friend Lisa that spurred my writing this post: http://lisa.ridleybarron.com/2012/09/13/i-am-worried/
**I recently came to the realization that I was being “overwhelmed by life” instead of “living life with the Overcomer”.
Although the demands and stressors are ongoing and seem to invite friends to the pile of problems… Praise God!!…He, in His foreknowledge and mercy provided the solution to WHEN I worry. When I sigh or groan in exasperation, I can almost hear the Lord say to me…”WHAT are you doing?… What ARE you doing?…What are YOU doing?… What are you DOING?”. Try that; ask yourself those questions with the stress placed on the different words. Eye-opening isn’t it?
It’s time to pick up the clue phone and give an answer! That’s just it: I am sinning. I am not focused on what (Who) is really important. When I am worried, I am trying to take control of everything, have it go my way. Then, when it doesn’t go according to MY plan, I throw an entitled hissy fit! How childish! How wrong!
Like watching a toddler trying to lift something entirely to heavy to carry with him, God must first laugh at our folly, then shake His head in disbelief of our stubbornness, and finally compassionately call us back to Him. “It’s too heavy for you Little One. You are trying to carry too much. Let ME carry what is important to you. I will give you what you need, when you need it.”
My very first thing was prayer. “God help me, I am wrong!” Lately, with an unusual influx of a greater deluge of unavoidable and major life changes, I have called out to accountability and prayer partners to help keep me from falling back. In addition, to the Word of “lean not on your own understanding,” I also refocus with “seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness..”. And THEN “all these things will be added unto you”.
My experience has shown me that worry is usually the result of me being misaligned. Therefore, when I am convicted by the Holy Spirit’s loving correction I get it straight. It is a very deliberate action. First comes God and His plan. Then I fall under Him. What I am, do and accomplish is a reflection of how well I focus on my most important purpose in Christian living. Joy replaces frustration when I am doing so with the acknowledgment that it is God Himself in whom I live, move and have my being.
Why do I get so worked up about ‘being in control’ when I never was able to really control anything anyway? Isn’t it ironic that the more I worry about control, the less I actually have and the more I worry? I am breaking that vicious cycle right now! Rather, I am determining to stand in the victory of the One who has already freed me. It is so much more freeing to allow the Master of it all to orchestrate it all while I allow Him to control me.
[Remember: Runaway Pursuit plus encouragement (even thru suffering) =transformed lives.]
Today finds me in a prison of sorts… unlike the Apostle Paul, mine are not physical chains, but chains of my uncooperative physical body. Like Paul, I used the time 0f solitude to focus on the things of God. Listening to Moody Bible Institute Radio, I heard a Christian teacher talking about Onesimus.. I’d like to learn more about the lives and bibliography of Ignatius and Onesimus. I became inspired to write this.
Ignatius of Antioch was an early church leader who wrote letters of encouragement to different churches even while being escorted to be martyred in the Roman Colosseum by lions.
The Biblical “postcard”of Philemon (an epistle written by the apostle Paul that is a part of the canon of Scripture) tells about a man named Onesimus. We are told that Onesimus was a runaway slave of a Christian named Philemon who Paul also formerly saw come to faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul took on the plight of Onesimus as one would a son. Paul told him that he needed to return to the master he’d wronged (Philemon). However, in a letter that Onesimus carried with him, Paul pleaded for the runaways debts and punishment to be accounted to Paul himself. He offered to take the wrong upon himself for the sake of another! Does that theme sound familiar?
In obedience, the runaway slave stepped out in faith and repented. He returned to the master he’d wronged and not only was granted grace-filled forgiveness, but, as a result, Onesimus became better equipped to live out that grace. According to history, Onesimus… this disobedient runaway slave… went on to become a bishop at Ephesus! How awesome is that?
EVERY Christian was once a runaway. The Bible teaches that we ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We ALL like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own way.
Yet, it was when the shining light of God’s spirit and truth pierces our sinful heart that we are freed from sin’s hold on us. We are delivered by the saving work of Jesus Christ when He took the penalty for our sins. He did so “once and for all”! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
If God so greatly desired a right relationship with me that He sent His only son to die, what will I sacrifice for right relationships and for eternal purposes?
This prayer that I pray today is not only for myself, but for all of my siblings in God’s family. >>
I pray that I never live so long in the family of God, that I have forgotten having once been outside of it. May I always remember that my own unpardonable sins have been forever forgiven. May I actively pursue the mission of the Gospel gift … that grace and forgiveness are still the means for welcoming others into God’s family.
God please empower us with your Spirit and use us to reach the runaways. Help us to pursue them with the love that they need– the Love that is You!
All for Your Glory, Amen.
May our runaway pursuit (passion for the Gospel) drive us to pursue the runaway!
As I watched more Earthquake/Tsunami footage, waited and prayed. I also couldn’t help but ponder about what the Bible has to say about the nature of Holy God. From the very opening words of Scripture it says “In the beginning God…” ! It serves as a great reminder that as modern or technologically sophisticated we may believe ourselves to be, man is still the created and God remains the Creator and Sovereign.
I learned that Japan is frequently esteemed for it’s disaster readiness. I then contrasted that with the thought that although they may be prepared for an earthquake or other natural disaster are they really ready for their future?
As I spent the entire night without sleep I was fasting in prayer. I thought about how somehow appropriate it was that this was happening during the season of Lent; a time of darkness awaiting the coming light. I drew many analogies to what was happening in Japan and our attempts in my city, state, county and nation for building a Christian Emergency Network. This being a group of people who serve the community during times of distress by not only helping meet their physical needs, but also addressing their spiritual needs. Disasters come and go, but the power of the Gospel is an everlasting deliverance.
I literally had hours to focus on what God was doing in the Midnight Hours!! At this time when I would normally have been asleep for hours and not even known about what was happening on the other side of the world I was having a study in the impact of prayer.
Why am I really up now? Do I not trust that God has everything under control? Am I grotesquely “rubber necking” at the images playing out in the footage from the other side of the world? I had to really pray “search my heart oh Lord, and let me know if there is any wicked way in me. Reveal any sin in me so that I may repent and be in good standing with you and with others.” I know the importance of coming into His presence with a clean heart so that I would not be offensive to Him. I want my time of prayer and seeking God to be one of communion in a sweetness that grows my relationship with Him as I long to learn more about God and how to be transformed into a more accurate image of who He created me to be.
After I addressed these concerns I was better able to focus on reaching out over the world-wide web to people with news as it was happening live. This is a passion of mine; communication through using visual new media in order to take people I may never have met and be able to encourage and equip them. “Coming alongside” also meaning “to comfort” the Greek word paraklesis — the very act of doing life “together” is what the church is called to do I believe. The “Helper” that Jesus said He was going to send when He went away was the Holy Spirit — the paraklete. I get so stirred up with the Holy Spirit at such times that it is like this Tsunami Wave crossing the Pacific…it’s traveling great distances at high speed (500 – 700 m.p.h.) and is anticipated to have an impact!
WHAT IS A TSUNAMI?
Being from the land-locked Midwest United States, many of the people I live around haven’t a clue what a Tsunami is. Therefore, I thought I would use this short little clip to help explain:Wave-generation-characteristics-recession-inundation
So a Tsunami is generated by a sudden shock. It is NOT a gigantic wave but is more like a surging high tide in fast motion. Out at sea where the ocean floor is so deep there may be no little elevation of a “wave” detectable. However, as the Tsunami wave reaches the shoreline and shallower ocean floor, the elevation of the wave will increase. In fact, as Tsunami is nearing the shore, a sudden very outgoing tide may signal the impending trouble soon to follow. Just as it is often “darkest before the dawn”; it is often an extremely fast outgoing low tide tsunami tide feeder right before the incoming high tsunami tide comes surging in.
We saw that principle at work after the New Orleans flooding disaster a few years back. Tremendous loss of life and property, a very dark time for many people and their communities. Then, just as God always does … the light of goodness comes shining thru. God’s light doesn’t just trickle in either, it FLOODS in to overtake the darkness. How does God do this? Through prayer. Don’t you see? We are given the awesome honor of being able to join in a concert of prayer! Today, with our connectivity through the internet and mobile devices, more than ever we are able to reach out at any time of day or night and say “here I am,” “I am here with you,” and “let’s pray.” Isn’t that exciting?
One of my favorite songs talks refers to the story in the Bible where Jesus halted the raging storm with a word. Some of the lyrics say, ” sometimes he calms the storm, other times he calms the child.” That is to say, when we go through these “storms” of troubles, as I pray for God to “stop the storm,” but IF I am praying according to His will, I think I will pray like Jesus did in Gethsemene before He went to die to take on punishment for sins He never committed. . . “Father please let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not MY will, but THINE be done.”
It seems so often that when I have prayed this way for others God either changes their situation to a more acceptable/comfortable one OR God causes such growth through both the person and me that I then see the “why” more clearly. When I still don’t see the “why” I firmly stand on “His ways are higher than my ways… I am His child always and forever… He loves me and will only do what is best for me.” And that goes for any of my brothers and sisters in the Lord as well.
My friend in Maui reports that they had only about six foot waves and had a photo on his FaceBook page from their hotel where there were a couple of people actually out in the rough surf. That is not smart. In fact, upper California or Oregon had a person or two swept out and lost at sea for such foolish activity. Another analogy for those who will not heed a warning and believe “it’s not that bad” or “it doesn’t apply to ME”.
Santa Barbara, I waited as long as I could before writing this post, but Sue had not called me back so I found out through an online source that the beaches had been closed along the California coast as a precaution. However, they just warned people in the marina, and told swimmers and surfers to remain out of the water until the all-clear is given.
So no harm done to either of the places and people that I was praying fervently for all night long. That is, those that I already knew. However, my prayers are continuing for the people of Japan!! There have been reports of hundreds, but I suspect more like thousands of deaths. Plus I keep going back to the thought of the ripping hearts of the mothers and thier babies separated, unable to communicate. Also the myriads of people who are stuck without transportation walking towards there homes; not knowing if their homes are even there. Remember, it is also very COLD! There are some emergency shelters, but those will be full and stretched in resources. Families are certainly separated, unable to locate one another. Are they safe? God only knows !
Therefore, I will continue the tsunami wave of prayer for the relief and rescue efforts that are no doubt underway even now. I am exhausted! I have been up for nearly 2 solid nights now. However, since I have posted this, I am going to be able to get to sleep knowing that God is at work in all this.
As mighty as the power of that earthquake was, and as devastating as the resulting waves of destruction across Japan – God Himself is the ALL-Mighty who never sleeps nor slumbers. It is night now, I must sleep. I will do so with the glorious hope of the approaching light of a brighter tomorrow!