Most of us dream of being a hero. If calamity
was imminent and we had the means to stop it, we hope we would be the one to
step forward, shake the mothballs off our cape and save the world. Or perhaps on a more believable scale, stand in the gap when needed and do the small but
heroic deed. We want to be the King David of the faith
(of course before the incident with Bathsheba), or the Paul or Peter
of the New Testament (again, during their good times). But what if we are actually more like Jonah?
do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered…We
were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we
despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises
the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8—9
Are you familiar with the meme that showed up
in late December of a sledgehammer violently smashing the year “2018?” For many
it was not a good year. Out with the old, and the sooner the better.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
I became a
Christian believer at the age of four years old. Which means I have experienced
forty (plus) years of God’s Spirit working in my life—shaping, transforming,
smoothing out my rough edges, and tending my soul-soil to produce his fruit.
think by now I would be in pretty nice spiritual shape.
Yesterday morning, my Sunday School class was discussing this question: How do we be a church family and love each other? I've been thinking about it since, and believe the first response is introspective. 1. Ask yourself: Am I reaching out to others? Do I speak to those who are hurting, or do I try to avoid them because I don't know what to say, or wonder if they need their space, or … whatever. So, maybe the first step is simply to reach out. Despite what we feel is our own ineptitude, we just need to reach out. Let the other person know that they are seen, loved, thought about and prayed for.
Sometimes in my relationship with God, I have
felt like an outside observer to my own life, watching God move and work in
ways that I can only describe as “all Him.”
I’ve been astonished, time and time again, at how
God can use a somewhat socially-awkward misfit and textbook introvertin His
plans. I have been a guest speaker … more than once. To those who know me well,
this should raise a huge, “WHAT?” To which I would answer, “I KNOW!” Who would
believe it? Certainly not me. Not about me. But when I consider God, His
incredible power, His joy in using the people He loves in unbelievable ways,
and honestly His sense of humor, then it is not surprising at all.
to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my
yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 As I was reading this passage in Matthew, I
was struck by the incredible contrast between the first and second sentences.
In the first, Jesus is offering an invitation. He invites all who are weary, all
who are tired of the evil in the world, jaded by the lack of empathy, shattered
by the mass killings of children by children, overburdened, dissatisfied—done. To these people, Jesus issues a summons and a promise: “Come to me … and I will
give you rest.”
Oh sometimes I can be fierce. Sometimes I’m the first to jump off the
high dive. Or chase my little brother’s bullies down the street.
times the fears of life seem overpowering, lurking in every shadow, causing me
to question every decision, every move, until I am afraid to make a choice, or
move a step—even a tiny millimeter—forward.