Archive | July, 2013

Unchallenged = Unchanged

25 Jul

Rather you are personally acquainted with the residents of Biddinger Boulevard or you have only peeked in through the window of this blog, you have to agree that they have faced some things on this planet.  Some challenges have come about of their own making and others, well, not so much.  But this is what I know as I prepare to write this post today:  Faith unchallenged is faith unchanged.

If I’m consistently praying for growth and asking God to increase my faith, and on my good days I am, then I have to expect opportunities to stretch my new faith muscles.  Times when I get to see if it’s just talk or if I’m willing to lace up my walking shoes and really step the thing out.  Today is just such a day.

Over the last few weeks I have been inundated with the truth of who God is and so desiring to have faith that can move mountains.  I’ve shaken off some chains that have shackled my feet forever and began believing Him in an area I was totally holding back.  I don’t want to overstate because I’m having to claim Scripture over it daily, but the point is, that I am believing Him for the victory.  I’m desiring to be obedient right now not when it is more comfortable for me or better timing.  I read somewhere recently that to truly experience the Comforter we have to be willing to leave our comfort zones.  There’s some truth to that for me because I have a tendency to become complacent after a while.

You’d think that with all we have gone through, just in the last year let alone the last 20 years,  that I would have been challenged enough for a lifetime.  How in the world could I have an unchallenged, complacent bone left in my body?  I’ve seen Him be BIG, HUGE, and FAITHFUL so often.  And yet, there are still places in the back of my brain that wonder, “But will You be faithful to me in this?  Will You be my refuge if I go there?  Will You protect me from that?”  I don’t want those back-of-the-brain places directing the feet of my faith.  But, unless I hit a challenge that makes me act, I will never know if I am truly living, moving, and finding my being in Him.  See what I mean?

I have to be grateful for the chances He gives me to know where my faith is at and to see the fruit of the growth He has prompted in me.  Did you catch that – “the chances He gives me to know . . . and to see”–?  Let it sink in a minute.  He already knows the depth and the breadth of my faith.  He knows what I will trust Him for and what I will believe of Him.  So who needs to be strengthened by it?  Who needs to see progress and have tangible proof that my faith walk is moving forward?  Oh my goodness Girlfriend – I do!  And so do you!

I need to know that there is fruit in my life of His Presence.  You need to look at me and see Him making a difference in my life.  It’s the same for you and the people who peek into your life.  You are the way that God has chosen to make Himself known in this generation among these people.  Every faith challenge you come up against is a new opportunity to shine like a star in the universe.  And don’t you know that Glory always shines brightest against a stormy background?

God does NOT need my growth or yours.  Does He desire it? You know He does. God does NOT need my faith to increase. He does NOT need your faith to increase.  But does He long for it?  Beloved, you can be certain He does.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  Acts 17:24-25

He doesn’t NEED a thing from us.  But oh, how He longs to see us consumed by our NEED FOR HIM. He knows that only when we are consumed with Him will we be complete. Now, we’ll not get there this side of glory, but we can continue, by His grace, moving closer.  And so He lets us see the tangible proof we need to keep fighting the good fight.  He spurs us toward more.  That’s who He is.  That’s His goodness.  That’s His compassion.  That’s His LOVE on display to you and through you.

See, your God is ALL about you.  And that means you don’t need to be.  You don’t have to worry about what’s coming down the pipe because He’s got it. So, if something comes into your life that challenges you, and I don’t mean to sound trite, but Sister, rejoice in it.  I’m not minimizing whatever you’re going through at this time, LIFE ON PLANET EARTH IS HARD!  But our God has set His Face like flint and He will not withdraw from the challenge or let His children settle for a less-than, untested, unchallenged faith.  Oh Praise His Name, He loves us enough to call us to more.  To cause us to draw nearer.  To lean in closer.  To listen harder and to look more intently.

So Sister you let your talk become your walk and you move ahead with confidence.  Whatever obstacle, whatever dark cloud, whatever difficulty you have staring at you, look right back at it with eyes of belief, and know, to the bottom of your soul, that your God is about to break out of that storm and shine like the noonday sun.  And then Girlfriend, you better grab your sunglasses cause life is bright that close to Glory!

A Giant Love Story

7 Jul

I love reading the Old Testament.  I always have.  My Aunt Shirley used to have these children’s Bible books at her house that were filled with the Old Testament accounts of the larger-than-life events God chose to record from that period of History.  I can still bring the artist’s rendering of the scenes to my mind and feel the pages that recounted the mother of Moses placing him in the basket of reeds to escape death.  I can see the book lying open on the floor of her living room that drew me into the life of Hannah and made me feel so sad when she left Samuel with Eli. And I can recall the drawing of Delilah as she tried to coax Samson’s secret from him.  I doubt Aunt Shirley had any idea of the impact those children’s books would have on me, but I am convinced that they are one of the things God used to stir my heart at that young age.  Know what? I still love reading about those faith giants.

Noah laboring to build the ark.  —  Genesis 6

Abraham faithfully walking up the mountain. – Genesis 22

Jacob wrestling with God. – Genesis 32

Moses standing on Holy Ground.  – Exodus 3

Rahab dropping the scarlet cord.  – Joshua 2

Gideon fighting with a few.  – Judges 6

David choosing the stones.—1 Samuel 17

Elijah pouring the water. – 1 Kings 18

And the list goes on and on and on.  I am just as enthralled with them all now as I was when I was small.  But now when I read about the events in their lives, I’m reading the Book that gives the full account.  Not just the beautiful shining moments but the ones tarnished by human nature as well.   So not only do I know that Abraham was a man who trusted as he walked up the side of that mountain with Isaac at his side,  I also know he was a man who lied and slept with a slave girl.  I know now that the same Moses who rose to lead the Israelites was a murderer who ran away to avoid the consequences.  And David, who stood to face the giant, was an adulterer and a murderer who wanted to hide his sins from God in the worst way.

All of the giants of faith, every single one of those everyday people, led insignificant, messy, imperfect lives. And yet, He chose to display His love, His grace, and His power through them.  Apart from Him, their stories would have gone unchanged, been unremarkable.  Jacob would have remained a deceiver, David an obscure shepherd, and Rahab a prostitute. It was God who made them different.  It was God who wrote the extraordinary excerpts of their ordinary stories.  He was the Author who penned their significant moments and transformed their lives.  It was all Him—because the story, the history of it all—is His.  It’s His story.

Girlfriend, it’s still all Him and it’s still His story, but may I ask you to believe today with everything you are that His pen has not gone dry?  He is still about the business of writing the most extraordinary excerpts on the pages of ordinary lives – OURS.   Our imperfections do not scare Him.  Our insignificance does not deter Him.  And our messiness will not dissuade our God, who does not change, from swooping down from heaven and transforming our lives.

Now, from our chronos perspective in this very messy, very imperfect world, His story is still unfolding and we may find ourselves wondering where the giants of the faith have gone.  But make no mistake Beloved, they are here.  Oh, they are here.   I know this to be true because I see them every day.  I see them marching out to their mission fields in nursing scrubs, company shirts, and work uniforms.  I see them mowing a sick neighbor’s lawn and bringing a meal to lighten someone’s load.  I see them coming alongside a grieving family, offering comfort, and holding a hand. And yes, I see them putting Old Testament story books into the hands of small children and planting seeds of faith.

I see His wonders.

I see His miracles.

I see His LOVE.

And Sweet Sister, don’t you know . . . . it looks just like you.

Yep, you’re the one.  You’re the giant of faith He has raised up for this place and this time.  He has written His Name across your heart.  He has chosen you to display His grace and His glory.  Don’t you doubt for a moment that His story has always included you and it has always been one Giant Love Story. You know I used to tell my students that “authors always write to be read.”  Thinking about that now,  I don’t think “The Author” is any exception.  I might go so far as to say that the concept is absolutely Biblical.

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.

Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit;

not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—2 Corinthians 3:3 MSG

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