Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Unbalanced Transaction

Photo Generated from www.wordle.net
What are the things that capture the intentions of my heart? What brings me excitement, what do I long to do, and what financial and social sacrifices do I make for some of these things? What stirs my imagination, what drives me, and what is powerful enough to distract me from other things I'm doing? What tempts me? What if my walls could talk? What if my wallet could talk?
"Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love." Jonah 2:8 (ESV) 
The phrase steadfast love above comes from the translation of the word checed (as pronounced). Other translations use such words as faithfulness, kindness, and even mercy. The transaction between the hope of steadfast love, mercy, and kindness (something everlasting) and vanity (something temporary) is not balanced, yet all too often I stand at the counter and complete the sale.

We all engage in many activities, but what in my life goes beyond engagement? What thing has placed its yoke upon me and is directing me away from the Cross? Keeping me for the contentment and joy that I always find when I get closer to Him? That verse resounds quite loudly; may I never walk away, and forsake something eternal, for the temporary.

Father, I ask that I don't have to be in the belly of a whale, in the pit of my life, before I cry out those words. Inscribe them upon my heart now as a reminder, and may the Spirit of Truth guide me into Your understanding; Your will for my life.

His,
~Matthew

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Out of This World

It has been far too long since I gazed up at the stars, planets, and amazing creations that stand before us. It gives me such an amazing perspective; not how small I am, but how big God is. Lately however, the "Out of This World" experience that it gives me has become far less fascinating and real than other observations, namely the ones I see in His Word.
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." (Zechariah 3:1 ESV)
When I reflect on being before the judgement seat of Christ, I imagine standing before the Father, with His Son, my Savior, at my side. I rest in the loving knowledge that He will say to the Father, "This one I know" (Mt 10:32). Yet I have not imagined standing in a spiritual courtroom with God as well as the opposition, Satan, pointing his finger at me in accusation.

Without Christ, this is a fearful encounter indeed.
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them." (Job 1:6 ESV)
Here again we see mischief and evil intent being played out in a spiritual realm. The battle that wages against our souls is not [just] one of worldly attacks, but also occurs outside of what we know. In the spiritual courts of His world, the players are many, and the stakes high. While we may stand hedged in the protection of God's own Son, let us not forget that the finger of Satan remains on us; pointing in accusation.
 
I pray I continue to abide in Him and His provision and protection.

Father, may I never forget the magnitude of this battle we are in. I pray you lead others who are searching for Truth to myself and others that call upon Your name. May we meet them with understanding, humility, and love. Your gift of salvation is not head knowledge for us to keep to ourselves, but to share the knowledge of Your Son to others. Open doors, create opportunities, and give us the strength to stand ready to share when needed. May not our words reflect Your Son, but may our entire life. In the mighty name of Christ we pray.
 
Living Out of This World,
~Matthew
 
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Perspectives

 
Having the ability to see a situation from a different perspective can be an amazing opportunity for growth. At times, unless we choose to intentionally see otherwise, observation becomes very stagnant. We've heard it as children when our parents told us to imagine wearing their shoes, we've heard it when we were given advice from friends, and we've even given out this advice to others. However how often do we really practice that ourselves?
When I see a friend get disturbing test results from the doctor, do I encourage him with cliche phrases, or do I sit and empathise with him?
There are a lot of needs, and we simply don't have the capacity to honestly and truly support as many people as we would like. In an age of social networking, and seeing updates from hundreds (or even thousands) of people, taking time to honestly reflect, pray for, and walk with everyone is just impossible.

Jesus can, we can not.

That doesn't mean that distance or even relational depth is a barrier to those individuals, I just think we really need to listen to His guidance on when to act, and to whom we act with. There are times I am called to walk with someone close to me, and there have been times I've exchanged words, e-mails, and written communication with others I hardly knew before I was called to speak to them.
Having another perspective comes when we are in relationship with someone who will bring that new perspective. If we live our lives in our comfortable world, those new perspectives (some scary) will remain comfortably pushed away. We are His Hands and feet, and we need to remember (I need to remember) that if I want a new perspective, I need to find someone in need that will give me one.
These perspectives and situations that are waiting for us are not limited to situations of grief and sadness (something my anxiety makes me believe). At times, we will enter the trenches, pop our head up, and look around (like my son examining the prairie dogs!) and find something new; a new friend, a new insight, a new experience.
Father, I pray I draw from your strength and embrace new relational challenges. I fear too much still, and it only shows how much I need You. Help me hold firm to your promises, call me to Yourself, and guide me in a direction of your choosing. May Your light be shined as I journey through this world, and may I meet new challenges with excitement, not fear. As I gain new perspectives myself, may those I encounter also gain new perspectives too; Yours.
His,
~Matthew

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Throttling Up ...


This photo (courtesy of my wife on her recent trip to see a friend) was likely taken during this short flight's cruising altitude. The takeoff routine and all the checklist items were now done, and since landing is still in the future, the present state is filled with ... well ... just maintaining.

I feel like Spiritually the last 60 days for me has been my 38,000 feet; my cruising altitude.
Unfortunately I don't say that in a soaring high kind of way. I unfortunately mean that my Spiritual life has lacked growth, commitment, and sadly obedience. This type of life in fact is hardly cruising with the jets rocking and rolling, but more like a gentle glide ... downward.

As a husband and father, I could tell you of some wonderful success stories. These past 60 days have been wonderful in many areas. However I've neglected my own relationship with my Father, and even myself.

Work clearly has been a factor, not an excuse, but a factor. I've always done well, even with a busy schedule, to maintain a healthy balance; not so much these last few months. I've not been in His Word on a regular basis, I've lost a good running cadence, and I've lacked on my nutrition terribly. Spiritually, Physically, and Nutritionally I've sat back and acted like the years of hard work would keep the engines going strong. I know better.

Besides, the stronger my relationship is with Him, the better I am as a husband and father anyway.

Thankfully though, the Lord is not just forgiving, but encouraging. So many times I have felt His loving call on my heart, as He has tried to penetrate the thick wall of "stuff" surrounding me. He makes me smile, laugh, and feel His peace each time I even think upon Him!

I have always prayed above all else that He simply keeps calling me to Himself, and the desire to be close to Him is something that has never left me. Why I struggle to carve out the time is crazy, but the desire is always strong, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

So as I wake up from a bit of a slumber, and look forward to getting back on His Path, Daily I suggest you take a look at your altimeter as well. Perhaps you lost some altitude, and this cruise control you thought you had on was more of a slow descending glide. If so, you're not alone ... but let's make the next decision a right one ... and let's do it together.

Throttling Up ...

His,
~Matt
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