Hold tight to what’s true…

I am part of a mid-size church nestled between one of the wealthiest areas of Dallas, Texas and the city’s poorest neighborhood. We are an eclectic picture of the Body of Christ. Rich sit beside the poor, African refugees beside African-Americans, seminary graduates beside the homeless, seekers beside long-time Christ followers. Grace is freely offered, truth is freely spoken and no name is higher than the name of Jesus.

This morning as I got ready for church, I prayed for a real thirst quenching. I came away drenched. Like a soaked sponge.

The Church is stirred up today, worried about what the future holds. God’s people are seeing the definition of marriage challenged, watching ISIS kill those who declare the name of Jesus, alert to the racism and hatred flooding fill the news and people are concerned about what will happen to religious organizations in the United States.

Fear is being allowed to invade minds that are supposed to focus on the good things of God.Phil4_RegimenswithGrace

It is creeping into our hearts when we are told that Jesus has overcome the world. Jn16_RegimenswithGrace

With all of that, I’d like to quote a small portion of the sermon I heard today:

Jesus will provide.

He can open the eyes of the blind and open the ears of the deaf but we’ve got to stop being dumb.

We really do. I’m not naïve. Just believing in Jesus isn’t going to solve any of these problems we face.

They may take away our tax-free status and stop giving people deductions for their charitable giving. The government may threaten us with fines or even imprisonment for speaking out against these things. What are we going to do?

I know what I’m going to do.

I’m going to keep preaching.

If they fine me ,then I’ll go broke.

If they send me to jail, then I’ll preach there.

And if they kill me then I will join that blessed band who “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — 38 of whom the world was not worthy — wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” These people “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15…they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:36-38; 13-16)


Me?

One day, several years ago, I lifted my opened hands and said, “I surrender all.”

It was the most freeing thing I have ever done.

I trusted Him then. I trust Him now. I can trust Him with my future.


You can listen to or watch Gary Brandenburg’s entire sermon at Fellowship Bible Church Dallas here: Blind, Deaf and a Little Bit Dumb

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Above the waves…

BeFunky_stormy_sea_by_alexlinde-d3y6mgd.jpgTonight Hillsong United was awarded the song of the year at the 50th Annual GMA Dove Awards.
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
is a powerful song and I’ve found it to be my anthem this year, singing it, praying it, wondering just how I would be living it.

    “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
    Let me walk upon the waters
    Wherever You would call me
    Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
    And my faith will be made stronger
    In the presence of my Savior”

That can be a dangerous prayer.

    Be prepared for the answer.

Scary isn’t always accompanied by adventure. Sometimes it is just accompanied by more scary.

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)

I’d say that was deeper than his feet would have wandered on their own.

And it was scary.

But before we get too hard on Peter for sinking, remember that this was about 3 o’clock in the morning. It was dark out there. First-century-in-the-middle-of-the-sea-dark, not light-shining-from-the-streetlight-dark.

The disciples couldn’t see Jesus very well. The rest were all sitting in the boat, still shaking over a potential ghost sighting.

And Peter was out on the water, in the presence of Jesus, calling out.

And I guarantee you his faith was stronger because of it.

Trust without borders?

Those waves may not look the way we think. I like adventure, maybe even with a little scary thrown in. But what about when there is no adventure? When the waves just look like…

    sinking?

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters.”

“Lord, save me!”

      “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
      Hillsong

      You call me out upon the waters
      The great unknown where feet may fail
      And there I find You in the mystery
      In oceans deep
      My faith will stand

      And I will call upon Your name
      And keep my eyes above the waves
      When oceans rise
      My soul will rest in Your embrace
      For I am Yours and You are mine

      Your grace abounds in deepest waters
      Your sovereign hand
      Will be my guide
      Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
      You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

      So I will call upon Your name
      And keep my eyes above the waves
      When oceans rise
      My soul will rest in Your embrace
      For I am Yours and You are mine

      Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
      Let me walk upon the waters
      Wherever You would call me
      Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
      And my faith will be made stronger
      In the presence of my Savior

      I will call upon Your name
      Keep my eyes above the waves
      My soul will rest in Your embrace
      I am Yours and You are mine

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
“These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:30-34 NLT

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Faithful in…

Ephesians_RegimensWithGraceSunday night was on its way and I was supposed to teach on Ephesians. I was thrilled at the chance and rather daunted as well. We have a class full of “meat” Christians and I felt a tremendous responsibility to see that they walked away fed.

So I read and prayed. Researched and prayed. And prayed some more. I read over notes I had jotted in my Bible, phrases I had underlined, and God allowed a few leaves to fall from the tree I was shaking.

Jotted in the margins of my Bible, I have all of the times in Ephesians 1 that we see who we are or what we have in Christ. So I dug deeper and He stopped me at the first verse.

“To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”

Why faithful in and not faithful to?

That wording seemed a little odd to me. I don’t say I’m faithful in my husband.

So I looked it up.cropped-o-WOMAN-PRAYING-HANDS-facebook.jpg

The Greek word as used here means believing, confiding, trusting; one who trusts in God’s promises; relating to the person in whom faith or trust is reposed. And, believing the faith God imparts.

So in this verse, it isn’t about being loyal, where the responsibility rests on us, it is simply about confiding and trusting in Jesus.

Wow.

It isn’t about my effort or trying hard to stay loyal. It is about trusting in Jesus. And I don’t even have to do that on my own. That is the kind of faith that only God can give!

“He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory,so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:20-21

That word believe is the same word as the one used for faithful in Ephesians 1:1.

And the word faith?

This is really cool. The Greek word for that is pistis. Again, it is the kind only God can give. In my searches of Strong’s and HELPS, I found that in secular antiquity, the word referred to a guarantee or warranty.

Do you see how all of this ties together? All we have to do is fully place our confidence and our trust in Jesus. He gives us our faith. We are given a guarantee.

I don’t have to struggle to “have faith.” I do have to remember to let go and trust.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus
(and Dallas, and Dehli, and Denver, and Detroit!)
and
faithful in Christ Jesus..
.

 

Oh thank you God, that when we let go of control and provide the trust, that You provide the faith.

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Dragons & dustbunnies

BeFunky_overwhelmed-26867-27583-hd-wallpapers.jpgWhat is it that overwhelms you?

Do you tend to rely on God more when it comes to the big things or the small ones?

I call these the dragons and the dustbunnies.

Dragons are the big battles in life – the bills that are impossible to pay, the illnesses that have no apparent cure, the spouse who isn’t faithful.

Dustbunnies are the little things, the things we “should” be able to take care of ourselves – the monthly budget, a busy calendar, and, well, dustbunnies.

Not everyone is a dragonslayer. We aren’t all created that way and it is a good thing. There are all sorts of problems that need to be taken care of.

David boldly faced the giant, chiding his fellow Israelites, saying, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:26) He’d killed a lion and a bear, knowing that it was through God’s deliverance. He recognized God as his deliverer. “…for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (verse 47)

He was a dragonslayer – trusting in God in the big battles.

I suspect he had a harder time with the dustbunnies. We see David get depressed and weary. This is understandable. He was a king. The guy had a lot on his plate. But remember Bathsheba? David didn’t do so well when he stayed home from the battle. (See 2 Samuel 11.)

Have you ever noticed that in Psalm 23 he says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”? Verse four is much bolder. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

David was a dragonslayer.

I didn’t realize it until recently but I get that.

When my husband was spending months in the hospital, I did okay. I had a daily round of doctors, nurses, IVs, medications, dressing changes and the regular details of life to keep me busy. And where David had his mighty men of war, I was surrounded by a wonderful cadre of Believers lifting us up in prayer, walking the dog, bringing me food and quite literally, killing my dustbunnies.

Then we came home. People did not desert me. But daily life set in – school, medical appointments, bills, dishes and, yep, dustbunnies. Believe me, when dustbunnies and dog hair breed, the offspring is an ugly sight.

Trusting God with my husband’s life? There was not one thing I could do about it except follow every step of his medical care. I had to trust.

But I am supposed to be able to take care of the little things on my own.

And that’s boring.

I want to get out and slay dragons, swing a sword.

But I have dustbunnies to kill.

    They get bigger and become dragons.
      They grow teeth, snarl and breath fire.

I get

        OVERWHELMED.

Do you know how David fought his dustbunnies? The same way he fought Goliath.

He recognized he could not do it on his own and cried out to God for help:
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry out to You,

When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

He recalled how God had helped him in the past:
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

He rested in God’s promises:
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

He renewed his praise:
So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.
(Psalm 61:1-4,8)

Dustbunnies or dragons – it doesn’t matter what they look like to other people. They can loom large in our lives.

We get

        OVERWHELMED.

Then we realize that the battle is the Lord’s. We cry out, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Next time, we will take a look at someone else who had to learn to trust God with the little things. But for now, I have some snarling dustbunnies to kill.

“Dear Father, help me to lean on You, no matter how big or small my battles may seem. I know that there is no problem too small for You.”

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