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Archive for November, 2011

Cast Your Nets Again

 

My friend is a single mom. She has been on her knees seeking the Lord as how to raise her two children for the last 20 years. Yesterday I heard her heart; it was breaking.

 

Her children were living lives far from the path she had led them on, from the path she had faithfully walked out daily; I know she did, I watched her choose the Lord and say yes to Him in difficult times, she continued to turn her face to Him for direction and strength. Jesus was faithful, of course, as she gave Him her heart and her love over the decades. But now here she stood, confused and weary and heartbroken.

 

What was that all about? What was the purpose of all those days of caring and praying for my children? My children are gone; they wander in lives far from the Lord and His goodness for them.  All that I had hoped for them seems to mock me.  ”

 

I was able to draw water from the Word for this dear one, (that is the only source we have for the brokenhearted in our lives.  Isaiah?.. He wakes me with a word for the weary one…­)

 

 Mat 22:37-40  “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

 

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

I shared with her,

 

“ See that the Lord has directed us to love Him and to love others; you have done this and will continue to do this. He calls you now to a different ministry, but with the same command.  What you have done… your obedience and trust in Jesus HAS had great value, because you have loved your children and have loved Him. Now it is time to move to the next ministry… to love and pray for your adult children.”

 

(I have received great encouragement from Stormie Omartian’s book, “Praying For Your Adult Children”.)

 

Moving on to a new ministry, a new season, might actually sounds like a good idea. It can sound like a relief, really.

 

But if we leave one season of our lives and ministry with the wrong perspective of that season, if we, with a sense of failure and uselessness, a “what was that all about anyway” kind of perspective, we will drag with us the baggage of a subtle hopelessness into the next season. The Lord wanted to shed a light on that for her, and for me. As I read the next morning from “The Rest Of God” by Mark Buchanan, I saw something precious about the Lord. He was talking about the weariness of the fishermen as they, yet again, had given and invested their lives and strength into what they knew must do, and yet they saw no results.  This can sound like parenting if we are not careful.
Here is what he wrote, ( just substitute parenting when he refers to fishermen),

 

Their recent fishing expedition has been a disaster, an exercise in humiliation and futility.  Up all night casting and hauling and nothing to show for it but torn nets. That’s how Jesus finds these men; mending their nets.  It’s a bad day on the job when the equipment comes up both empty and broken…they want nothing more than a quick excuse to shuck the whole sorry enterprise…the pay is pathetic, the hours unholy and the benefits nonexistent….’at it all night and we haven’t caught a thing…’ Now, if Jesus wanted to make a statement about the relative uselessness of mere fishing, He would have called them away from while they still stood at the lakeshore net mending.  He would have said  ‘the work you are presently doing—its useless. Wasteful. God’s blessing isn’t on it isn’t that obvious? Why bother? You want real work? I’ll give you the kind of work that God cares about. The Lord’s work. I’ll make you preachers. Yes, the world needs more preachers.’

 

If Jesus had said that, we might reasonably conclude that He saw little value in fisherman’s work. But He doesn’t say that. He says, ‘Let’s go catch some fish.’

 

‘Aw!’ Peter whines, ‘Do we have to? This job’s the pits. I’m tired, tired of this work, tired of failing, just plain tired. But all right. If You say so.’

 

They push off. They cast the nets, and suddenly its Christmas morning. Suddenly this is the best job in the world. I love my work.”

 

So, what is it that God has called us to do?

 

Parent children? Have relationship with adult children?

 

Pray for that someone to have open eyes and believe in Him as Savior?

 

Keep your home in order; go to work and do your job with integrity?

 

Love your husband; pray for your neighbors or fellow workers?

 

Make that phone call one more time to reach out to someone?”

 

Whatever it is, if it is shrouded in “what’s the use?”; if torn nets surround you, take hope. Cast them out again… and again, and again. He knows where the fish are and He will bring them to the nets in His time and wisdom.

 

Isa 55:8,9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

It is for us to keep our eyes on His beautiful face and to listen to the Voice that would never tell us to do something that He would not also strengthen us to do.

 

Cast your nets out this morning… He is standing right there next to you on the shore. Can you see His smile?


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Faithful in the Fog

I have found myself singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” the last couple of days.

I love the hymns. I love meeting my brothers and sisters who wrote and sang these words, some of them centuries ago. Their hearts desired God, sought after God, and shared with us the treasures they found as they walked with Him.

Some of their journeys reflected the proven faith of following their Shepherd and knowing His presence daily….“What a friend we have in Jesus…”

Some were awestruck and overwhelmed by the greatness of a God who had brought them to their own “mount of transfiguration” to cry out…“Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder…”

Many wrote in times of wrenching difficulty, fighting doubt with truth and praise… “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘it is well, it is well with my soul...”  

And some wrote while walking with their path obscured in the fog….”All I have needed Thy hand has provided, great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.”

I was reminded this morning of the devotion I had read recently in “Jesus Calling” (November 16).

“As you look at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path going off in all directions. You wonder how you can possibly find your way through this maze. Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall My promise to guide you with my counsel…you look again at the path ahead…a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view. You can see only a few steps in front of you…you turn your attention fully to me…the fog is a protection for you…”

the fog is a protection for you…”

Then came the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation (testing, trial, putting to proof) has seized you except what is common to man.AND GOD IS FAITHFUL; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,(tested, tried, what you believe put to proof) He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.“

I have too often measured God’s faithfulness in relation to my prayers that have been answered with a ‘yes’, or when the provisions that I deemed reasonable and due were provided. But I saw His faithfulness through new eyes this morning, His provision for my true need always supplied. His Spirit revealed through His Word how the Father has and always will show Himself faithful.

“He will also provide a way…”

He will provide a way. Today and tomorrow and every in situation which I will encounter, one fog-lifted step at a time. He will provide a way, not for me to merely survive, but to stand with strength, to bear it well. No wringing of the hands, no looking to the horizon for “this to be over,” but to stay put and to stand ground. How? Because yet again He reminds me to:

Heb 13:5-6   …be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…”

He doesn’t point me to some provision to help me stand; He is the provision, He with me every unchartered step of the way.  This is His faithfulness to me, this His perfect provision. I want Him to show me the end of the path, how things will resolve, if things will ever resolve. He keeps the path hidden in the fog of His love and reveals to me, not the end of the path, but Himself as the guide. So when I am straining to see through the fog of this season of my life, Jesus turns my too often misdirected gaze to Himself.

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”  (“Come Thou Fount”)

And so I sing a new song for the fog in my life, for because of its kind provision my heart is again turned to Jesus.

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You are You

A few days ago I woke with this prayer on my heart.

“You are not just the God to whom I speak to answer my prayers, for then when my prayers seem unanswered, I would falter.

You are not just the God to whom I give thanks; for when in my weakness of soul I see only that which is not, and I am blind to all that with which I have been blessed, my heart would be silent.

You are You, You are You, You are You.”

I said it, I proclaimed it, and I offered it to Him as praise.

Over and over I repeated, “You are You, You are You, You are You “; it rose from inside of me. Strange words that I had never spoken before, but they strengthened my soul.

“You are You.”

No matter what I see or feel or understand, no matter what I believe; He is who He is. I was enveloped with comfort and peace and an assurance that had nothing to do with my hopes being realized or my mind being made aware of all the blessings for which I should be thankful. He is who He is.

That morning in my devotional, “Streams In The Desert”, this is what was waiting for me.

“The worship of God is the soul bowing down before God in absorbed contemplation of Himself. Over and over do we read the words, ‘They bowed their heads and worshipped;’ or ‘They fell down and worshipped.’ It has been well said that ‘In prayer we are occupied with our needs; in thanksgiving we are occupied with our blessings; in worship we are occupied with Himself.’ God would not have us less occupied with our needs or present them less to Him.  Neither would He have us less occupied with our blessings or return thanks less to Him; but He would have us, I am sure, more occupied with Himself in intelligent worship.”  R.A Torrey.

One weary afternoon, many years ago, when my mom was in the last stages of Alzheimers, I was overwhelmed with grief. I cried out to the Lord, “How can this possibly glorify You? How can this dear woman, who should be cloned by the millions as the Titus 2 woman that the church is so in need of, be sitting here waiting to be fed and changed and bathed.  How can this be Your will for her?” Though I thought I needed answers, or at least comfort, His answer to me was swift and corrective.

“You do not understand eternity, My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,  as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts…. worship Me.”

It was an instruction and a command and a rescue for my soul which was slipping into despair.

I recognized He was not ignoring the plea of my limited understanding; He was saving me from it.

I began to sing the first thing that came to my nearly paralyzed mind, “Majesty, worship His Majesty, unto Jesus be all glory honor and praise…” I sang it, then I shouted it out loud. “Majesty, I worship Your Majesty”.  A stronghold was broken that could have kept me locked in the prison of my insistence to “understand”. And now, almost 10 years later, my soul remembered to worship,

“You are not just the God to whom I speak to answer my prayers…

You are not just the God to whom I give thanks…

“You are You, You are You, You are You.”

 

I hear His whispered response, “I Am Who I Am”.   

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Fighting Through It

This is a little embarrassing, but I am going to be very honest with you about something.

I was given Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power Of Praying For Your Adult Children”, and I had a hard time with it.  More than a hard time, actually — I fought with it. At every page I found myself battling her exhortation to pray.

“How can she make this sound so simple?”

“I’m supposed to believe that praying these Scriptures will actually make a difference?”

“Does she even have adult children who have wandered away from the goodness of Lord? What does she know about the grief of this?”

I wanted to throw the book down and open something that made sense to me, (there is a way that seems right to a man…), but I knew better. I could hear the Lord in the moment. “Stay here, calm yourself and fight through this.” So I did.

I struggled as I underlined nuggets of truth that I had believed and taught for years. They seemed to mock me. I didn’t want to open the painful door of hoping that things could or would ever be different. The Lord urged me on, “Keep going. Read, even if you don’t believe. Make yourself be still and listen to what is true.” 

It was like the needle-pricking pain of walking on a foot that has been asleep for a long time. I kept walking through it. I made myself feed from this book for an hour, even though I tasted nothing. In the end, I just cried. But somewhere from inside of me came the prayer “Help me Lord, help me to believe again, help me to pray.”

Nothing happened right away. For two days I looked at the book and just walked past it. Then on the third day, (seriously), I opened it. It startled me. Every single sentence that I had underlined shot out at me like a war cry. I not only believed, but I was infused with power to fight for my adult kids; fight like I had never fought before. I fought, believing that the Lord Jesus was fighting for my kids and I was joining Him as He made intercession for them. I believed that He loved and hovered over them — that He, the “hound of heaven,” was not going to let them out of his sight or His love. 

 This is why we can pray my sisters. This is why we can pray for our families, for the lost, for the end of abortion, and the tearing down of strongholds. We can pray because Jesus is praying. There is a place to draw a deep breath in Hebrews 7:25, ”He daily lives to make intercession…” We are not alone in this; we are joining Him who never sleeps and will never leave or forsake us, or them.

Now, you have to watch this Advertisement. Its purpose is to remind us to wear our seatbelts, but I hope you will see the imagery in the message which spurs us on to pray for loved ones heading for danger. 


Pray my friends, pray.    

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A Joyful Beaver

I believe that Jesus is calling me to a journey.
I find myself this morning drawn to scriptures that speak of and lead to joy.
Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons again. I love autumn, I inhale it like a deep breath. But there is that incremental lack of light that each day imposes its lengthening shadow of depression on me, a shadow that I must annually fight to resist. This morning  Thanksgiving calls from around the corner. I have so much for which to be thankful; I have been so greatly blessed. But Jesus is teaching me that it is not in the blessings that I was intended to find joy.
So here begins the journey.

Psa 16:11  You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  I am encouraged that Jesus will by His Spirit lead me to that which is actually life, that which is joy.

Psa 16:8,9  I have set the Lord always before me….

One of the Hebrew translations for “set” is “to adjust”, (as in the mirrors of my car as I drive), and therefore to change the direction of my view so that the Lord is always before me. I am reminded in Proverbs 3:6  “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”)

Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore… my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure…

This then is the source of joy;  the person of Jesus always invited, always acknowledged, always my chosen view.

Psa 43:3,4  Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.  Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, (Who is) my joy and my delight.

Jesus is ever willing to show me the way to Himself…He will guide me, and then it is up to me to respond with the heart of my brother David, “then I will go”.

And so this journey begins, with a promise of His guidance and the instruction to “adjust” and “to go”.

In light of this, I took a personality profile a few weeks ago. The Smallet-Swift Personality Profile.  Seemed harmless enough. The results, however, surprised and disappointed me. My personality type: “Effective”.  My response to this word brought back memories of myself in the 70’s when I, and so many other eager youths from the Jesus People movement, found ourselves looking up the meanings of our names, hungry to find our destiny and purpose in the Lord.

And what was the meaning of my name…Beverly? …” from the beaver meadow, industrious.”

Seriously?!  A beaver?! Really?!

I wanted to be ” gentle deer walking in the morning mist”, or “peaceful dove resting in the Lord”. But no, I’m a beaver; a busy, (and in my perspective, thus a very unattractive) creature. And so, now decades later, here I was again.

“Effective”. Might have just as well said “Beaver”.

As I studied the pages of the profile I could not help but recognize myself. I was looking in a mirror as I read the words…” Your sense of well being (joy) is derived from accomplishing; rest creates anxiety.”  So I find it interesting that the Lord has put me on this path, this journey to joy. It seems that every time I open the Word lately it speaks of joy, true joy.

On October 26, in the devotional “Jesus Calling”, this greeted me:
“My presence with you can be a continual source of joy….strive (be busy?) to remain conscious of My presence, even in the busiest moments.” Hmmmm.

Proverbs 3:6  “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight…”

Psa 16:11  “You have made known to me the path of life…”

Jesus is making my path straight; He is making me know the path of life, the path of true joy, because He is my true joy.
So I see I will obviously never change my DNA.  I am a beaver, but, I can, (and I will), learn to hear and follow Jesus on this “path of life”. My busyness can purposed on knowing this path…this path to Jesus..Who is my joy.
This is going to be interesting.

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