Are you in need of a shower?

The other morning while I was taking my morning run at the ranch, I stopped alongside a stream that paralleled the road.  There was a beam of sunlight streaming through the trees and making a beautiful reflection upon the surface of the water. I sat down in the grass for a quick breather and was soon mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the running water.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve absolutely loved water.  I grew up back in the midwest where the summers are scorchers.  Water becomes a lifeline to staying cool and being refreshed. Water represents cleanliness and sustenance.  It is a symbol of purity and no life can exist without it.

Jesus told us to believe and be baptized.  The act of using water in baptism was a symbol of cleansing.  It is an outward sign of an inward change that happens when Christ makes his residence in our lives.  Water Baptism represents the act of being put down into the water, dead to our trespasses and sin and then being lifted out washing away the old and beginning again, being born again into the new life we have in Christ.  It identify’s us with Jesus’ death and resurrection for the remission of our sins.  Christ himself role modeled baptism for us when he was on the earth.

In the same way we are to daily wash ourselves with the word.  Just like getting up and taking a shower every morning (well at least I hope that most of us do).  We are to read it, meditate on it, and to let it speak to us and to convict and cleanse us (by letting it judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart).   .  The word is to refresh and renew us.  Just like that shower, the washing off of the filth and sin in our lives and restoring us to a clean state through confession.  This is what meditating on the word is supposed to do for us, if we allow it to, it washes us and makes us clean.

I was just again reminded of this by an overnight trail ride my family took with some friends.  I choose not to ride in on horses due to my dust allergies but my family did and I rode in to our campsite in the truck that carried all the camping gear.  This was a dry camping experience, meaning no running water or electricity.  And boy o boy, after a day of camping out there in the intense heat and sitting by a smoky fire, then spending the night covered in bug spray, there was nothing more I wanted the next day than a nice hot shower.  I felt dirty and smokey and I wanted to be clean.  It was the very first thing I did when we returned back to our trailer the next day and it felt wonderfully refreshing.

Just like I needed that shower to once again be clean and refreshed, we need the word of God to do the same thing in our lives.  In order to be transformed to the image of Christ we need to daily be renewed and refreshed by the washing of the word of God in our lives.  It is the transforming power in the life of a believer.  And only through it can we reflect the light of Christ in a world of darkness, just like that reflection I saw on the surface of the water.

Psalm 51:7  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 

John 13:8  No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

John 17:17  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Ephesians 5:26 . . . to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.

Learning as you go!

It’s so funny to think about, but each of my children were so radically different when they were small.  I don’t know why this amuses me so much, but you’d think they all have the same genetics they would at least be somewhat alike.

When my youngest Natalie was little, she was a busy little thing.  She would literally go, go, go until she would pass out.  When she was tired, she would get so cranky and would cry and cry.  I would tell her, if you’re tired, then go lay down, but she would just stand by me arms lifted high and cry.  Now mind you, she was no longer a baby but probably four or five.  Initially, this behavior just irritated me to death.  Until I figured her out.

You see, none of my other three children were like her, when they were tired they would lay down and go to sleep.  So this was a learning process for me.  All she wanted is for me to stop what I was doing so I could hold her.  Then immediately she would stop the irritating crying and within minutes fall fast asleep.

I in my stubbornness, did not want to be a crutch for my child who could not fall asleep on her own.  But once I figured out that this would bring the peace and comfort she needed to feel secure and loved, I had to give over my will to hers, knowing that this is what she needed.

Did I mention that I’m a slow learner.  Unfortunately sometimes the best lessons in life have to be learned the hard way. I endured much of her crying before I decided to succumb to her and her wishes.  This may sound harsh to you. Like why didn’t you just hold the kid, but my intentions were always the best, I just didn’t want a spoil my child. And I felt like this was a battle of wills.

Like I said earlier, none of my other three were quite like her. But in discovering this was a need for her, it actually turned out to be a blessing for me.  I was able to stop in the midst of all the business of what I was doing, and spend a few minutes giving her some one on one time and me actually getting a minute of down time.

I had learned a valuable lesson from this experience and that is that God wants us to have the same sort of dependence upon him that Natalie had upon me.  God desires us to be as children in our faith.  That doesn’t mean we are to be foolish or act childlike, but that we are to be childlike in our faith meaning a deep and trusting dependence upon God as in a child/parent relationship.

God wants us to be as my daughter was when she was tired.  He wants us to turn to him in dependency for our security and comfort.  He wants to be our all in all.  Only he can provide the true and lasting comfort that will help us when we are tired, weak, troubled, fearful or fretting.  God is there!  He never leaves us or forsakes us.

He wants us to come to him, to focus on him and to spend time with him,  like a child with outstretched our arms to our father.  And then in his presence he will pick us up and quiet us with his love.  He reassures us that we will be ok and that we are safe in his loving arms.  When we come to him, we can find the peace and security we need and we can rest safely “In Him.”

Unlike us earthly parents who often learn as we go and often times through our mistakes, God is the perfect parent who knows exactly what we need and he is always there for us when we call out to him!

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love . . . Zephaniah 3:17

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. . . Psalm 91:4

Are you comfy?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a total comfort creature.  I love hanging out around my house and I love wearing comfortable clothing. Give me a tee shirt, jeans and a pair of tennies and I’m good.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like to dress up when the occasion arises, but don’t expect me to be wearing no five inch heels.

Just like I love the comfort of my home and comfortable shoes and clothing for my body, sometimes I think we all like comfort in the body of Christ as well (a little too much I think).  We like to come to church on Sundays and then go about our week doing what we want to do, adding a “little bit” of Jesus here and there as we want, as long as were comfortable and it doesn’t interfere with our plans.

Don’t dare ask “me” to do something “I’m” not quite comfortable with. Or ask “me” to serve somewhere that might require “me” giving up some of “my” time.  I know, I’ve been there, I have been guilty as charged.  O ME, O MY, that’s what I call that problem, it’s centered around “I,” not God.

But the more I grow in my walk with Christ, the more I seek after him, the more I find out that God is not found in the “comfy places” in my life.  I’m not saying he’s not always with us, but that he begins to reveal himself more and more as I get out of my comfort zone and as I begin to strip off that clothing called comfort and as I seek him and step out of the comfortable and into the open waters of faith.

I was reading the passage in Matthew 14 beginning in verses 22-31. Jesus had just finished feeding the five thousand.  He had told the apostles to get back into their boat and cross to the otherside of the lake while he sent the people home.  Jesus then went up into the hills by himself to pray.

During the night, the apostles were in out in their boat and were beginning to get into some trouble.  They were fighting some strong winds and waves.  Suddenly Jesus came toward them walking on the water. When the disciples saw him they were terrified and cried out, “it’s a ghost.”  But Jesus spoke out to them and told them, “Don’t be afraid, take courage, I am here.”

One of the apostles, Peter who was in the boat called out to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus called out, “Yes, come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and realized once again the circumstances surrounding him, he began to sink.  “Save me Lord,” he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.

Wow, I love this story.  There are so many parallels to our life of faith. Sitting in the boat Peter called out to Jesus and Jesus said, “Come.” Jesus wants us all to do the same.  We need to seek after Jesus by calling out to him.  Then we need to have the faith to get out of the boat as he calls us.

Sometimes we just want to stay in the boat.  The boat represents the appearance of safety and comfort to us, but is it really?  Don’t forget the waves and the wind, the boat could overturn at any point, then we would really be in trouble. But Jesus is out on the water, and if we are going to follow him, that’s where we as his followers need to be also.  Following him at his lead, even if its out on the water (the uncomfortable places).

As we get out of the safety (our comfort zones and clothes) of the boat, it is there we find Jesus.  Here on the open waters of faith He meets us.  But when we take our focus of him, what happens?  We begin to sink.  Anytime we put our focus on our circumstances, our circumstances can become bigger than God.  But with God as our focus, he can give the courage to do things that only he can help us to do.

So I ask you today, if your still in the boat, are you willing to get out? Don’t let the comfortable strip you from following hard after Jesus. When we call out to him, He is there.  When we keep our focus on him, He sustains us.  He tells us to not be afraid and to take courage, he encourages us with the words, “I am here.”  Will we trust him today?  I think it’s time to get out of the boat, how about you?

Are you stuck?

As I walked down onto the beach to take my morning run, I came across these two rather huge pieces of driftwood sticking upright in the sand.

They caught my eye just because they just seemed rather odd sticking up in this position.  They had obviously been there awhile and didn’t look like they would be moving anytime soon.  I tried to give a good push on one of them and it just wouldn’t budge, it was just plain stuck.

Sometimes as followers of Christ we get the same way.  We get stuck in our walk with the Lord and just like these pieces of driftwood we become immovable.

There are many reasons why we as believers become stuck.  Some of the reasons being fear, unbelief, unforgiveness, pride, stubbornness or selfishness.  These are only a few of the reasons, but when we do get stuck in one of these places, things can sometimes seem pretty grim and hopeless.

I myself was caught in such a place as this for years.  Trapped by fear and anxiety, it was if something had a tight grip around me and was choking off my oxygen.  As long as I was in my safety zone I was ok, but push me out into something unfamiliar and the fear would take over, it had me paralized and stuck, unable to move forward in my relationship with God.

You see, fear is not trusting God.  The bible says perfect love, (which is the love of Christ) casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  God doesn’t want us to remain in a place of bondage, he wants us to be free to serve him and to do his will.

The reason I was was finally able to break free was really rather simple, but it took me coming to the end of myself and turning to God.  I needed him to set me free and get me unstuck.  I cried out to God and he heard me and he released me from the chains of fear and set me free.

Sin has a way of getting us stuck.  When we know to do right and we don’t, the bible says it is sin.  Sometimes we think we can hold on to things God shows us are wrong and if we continue to try to hang on, we will get stuck.  God will remove his hand of safety from us because we are choosing to walk in disobedience and that is sin.  Sin separates us from God.  Again we become stuck, trapped by our own lack of obedience to God.

The bible says that we need to examine ourselves.  Sometimes being stuck can be a small setback and believe me, we all have them.  But if we don’t take care of these small issues soon enough, they can become big issues which then become places of bondage to us, we become stuck.

Father God please help us to examine ourselves even now.  If there is something we know keeping us stuck please help to pry our hands open and to give those things to you.  Release us from those things that keep us from fully trusting in you.  Help us to come daily before your throne of grace where you stand waiting to hear and help us.  Help us to trust you in all things so that we may be the people you created us to be.  You are an amazing God.  Thank you for your great love for us.  To you be all glory forever and ever.  AMEN

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. . . . he reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.   Psalm 18:1-6;16