Thursday, June 30, 2011

Unlikely Disciple

I have a new study Bible. It is called the NKJV Study Bible. Formerly known as the Nelson Study Bible. And it is full of gems. Many annotations, articles, maps, charts and cultural notes. I am liking it moreso than my McArthur Study Bible which has fallen to pieces in the 2 years I have been using it. A tattered worn out Bible can be a testament in its own right. That a falling apart book might indicate a life being put back in order.  It does not feel that way to me so I will just have to take others word for it.

Religion, spirituality, politics, economics, social issues and the like are very complicated complex subjects that frankly confuse me and overwhelm me.  I don't have the answers and my brain goes a little into the overloaded mode when I try to "figure" things out. Basically, it is like how I feel after spending several minutes attempting the New York Times crossword puzzle.  I have to put it down and just walk away.

When I study Scripture, it too can appear to be complicated and complex, threatening to put my mind into overload mode. So I work consciously to keep it simple.  I have been meditating on this passage for the past hour or so:

     The Gospel of John 6:28,29

     28 "Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
     29 "Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

What? That's it? Just "believe in Him whom He sent?"  No no no it can't be that simple.  Can it?

It is.  The simplicity is so beautiful and poignant.  The people Jesus was talking to were simple people who had just witnessed His power to feed them the day prior but they wanted to know what they had to do and they wanted more proof. 

Do I need more proof?  Or do I just want God to do it for me.  Didn't God do it all for me already?

So just believe.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unlikely Disciple

It has been over 90 days since I wrote anything here. It has been a bit dry spiritually for me. I know that anytime I feel like I am distanced from God it is I who moved; not God.
Although I hate to admit it I am a bit of a whiner and complainer. Most people do not see me that way though. I am very adept at portraying my dissatisfactions in a convincingly righteously indignant manner.
I have been in my life a drug addict, a drug dealer, a liar, a manipulator, a thief, a bully, a braggart, a gossiper, a user, a cheat. I have also been giving and generous, kind, thoughtful, selfless and self-sacrificing. I have been quick to help others and have a quick smile. I think I have helped a great number of people.
I received a message the other day from a man I have known since he worked for me in Seattle around 1998:

[13 years ago, you took a chance on a kid you didn't know from california, who had no local family, no connections, not even a home. He worked for you, and really admired and respected who you were.

You were right, about a lot of things back then. I was naive, and desperate, and a bit of a fool. I think the worst thing about being fired was not so much losing the job, but losing your respect, which I valued, but didn't know how to communicate.

I just wanted to say, you were right, about a lot of stuff... and I was pretty wrong and stupid.

Thank you, for taking a chance on me back then.
13 years later, and I haven't forgotten it, or you.

Well wishes to you and your family.]

Needless to say I was touched greatly by this short note. It reminded me at a moment when I needed reminding that I am not my shortcomings. I am not my failures. I am not my fears or misgivings. I am not my feelings and I am not your feelings. I am not my wants or desires.

I am God's. I have given my life to Jesus Christ. I, on my own am those things that defeat me and discourage me. Without Jesus I am without hope. What a desolate and dry place to be; alone, without God.

But with Him; my hope is like a fountain pouring from my heart. What can I not do when God is with me? One step toward Him is all it takes. One step that at times seems so impossible to take. But when I do I feel those loving hands surrounding me and strengthening me. And it makes me wonder why I wander like I do.
Thank you LORD for always taking me back. Thank you Jesus!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Unlikely Disciple

I am attending a Pastor and Leaders Conference at Calvary Chapel Tucson over the next few days. I am not a pastor or leader but I do see myself as being a beginner minister/evangelist.

Any true believer in Jesus Christ as their LORD and Saviour is called to be a witness. And by witness I mean share the Gospel which is the good news of redemption and reconcilliation with God through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for me. Anyone who believes in Jesus is able to make that testimony based on what happened to them personally. I fear many don't for the same reason I sometimes keep my mouth shut when the Word of God burns inside me and I let it be quelched out of fear or possible ridicule by the people around me.

Our world is in chaos. It is fallen and the world is full of lost people who buy into the world's lies of a better everything just at our fingertips. The world is shallow, conceited, self-centered, mean, oppressive and dying.

God's love is what saves me. His love for His people is what keeps me from perishing in my own destructive distractions. His loving forgiving hands hold me when I am lost and alone. I only have to look to His Words to find the guidance and direction I need. If I put my hope in anything other than His Love I am once again doomed. How many times do I need to learn this lesson? How many times do I have to return to the same conclusion before I make a better decision next time? I can almost laugh at the absurdity that anything this world has to offer can satisfy my restless soul. But not quite.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unlikely Disciple

In God's eyes I must be a simple and easily understood person. In my mind it is a whole lot more complex and not so easy to decipher. I have always been a thinker. Or you could say I am a thoughtful man, except when I am not. You may already be confused; welcome to my world.

I have been absent from this blog for a little over 7 weeks as you may have noticed. On January 8, Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and almost killed while others were wounded and some died. Gabby as a lot of Tucsonans knew her as was a frequent and welcome visitor to my cafe. Over the years we have hand numerous conversation and she is always quick with a big smile, a hug and a peck on the cheek. She has this quality of making you feel welcomed in to her life and that you are her friend. She is a great example in that sense to follow. Her being shot was shocking, horrifying and left me reeling. I knelt in the bathroom at my cafe and I prayed. I prayed more earnestly than I ever felt I had before. I prayed for the Father's will to be done, to spare her if it so be, I prayed for any inspiration to show how or if I could help her or anyone else. I prayed because I knew she was Jewish like me and once again there was someone in my life who I cared deeply about who may have never heard the Gospel of Jesus and who may die not knowing it. (see Dec. 14, 2010 post).

I heard a news media report that Gabby had died. I wept. Like a baby I wept. I did not know where such deep emotion came from. Then the news media reported she had not died. I was relieved beyond words. I cannot wait for the day when she once again walks in to the cafe and smiles and hugs me.

I can only imagine that it must be infinitely greater to be in the presence of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ and receive that hug and smile. My spirit yearns for that and I pray that I would weep the tears of a thousands years, being completely cleansed and emptied, then be lifted up by God and set in a place where I would experience no confusion, no saddness, no pain and feel an unexpressable joy that would last forever. Amen!

There is a chasm there. The distance from the one point to the other point. Can it only be acheived by my bodily death; moving into the presence of our LORD? Although it escapes me I know that in essence that is what has to happen. I must die to this world and the things of this world and the ways of this world in order to live for God! The temptations are great! They are overwhelming! They are innumerable! And they are on all sides of me.  I get trapped in them and ensnared and I struggle with them fiercely!

I know the answers are in God's Word. I believe every single one of them. I pray for discernment and wisdom and strength and grace to overcome this world and live for Jesus! I am afraid. The old self has been around a long time and I was really good at being me. I fear the ridicule and scorn that will come from the world. I look to Jesus, the apostles and the martyrs and I feel ashamed. I do nothing and they gave all!

Am I willing to give all? I want to give all. I feel it burning inside me! Yet I stay in my comfortable surroundings and think about giving all.

LORD, light my path and open my eyes; grant me courage and opportunity; let my heart not fail. Amen!

(to be continued with more of my story I promise)