I have been chewing on thankfulness this week and realized I don't stop enough to Thank God for not only the blessings, but for my life!
Even the bad days can lead to new opportunities to experience God!
1 Thessalonians says we should give thanks in ALL circumstances. I will be the first to admit, that is VERY HARD to do when the circumstances are bad. My first thought is not to thank God in that circumstance but to ask to get out of them!
I remember when we were on the mission field, sometimes our circumstances were rough. There were times I wanted to quit and I "wrestled" with God quite a bit. I was not thankful in those circumstances, though I am now thankful i went through them.
At the time, I did not see God's hand moving. This is despite the fact that we never went hungry and never went without our needs met. I just didn't see God in it. Looking back, I now see how God was there and I am thankful. My thanks today is because those times caused my faith to grow, mature and become more real.
So today I will say I am thankful for my walk with the Lord, that He gave His Son as a gift so that I could have life!
I am thankful for who HE is!
I am also thankful for my precious wife of 16 years, my 2 wonderful kids and that God is in control!
What are you thankful for?
I first became of Andrew Farley when I read his book, The Naked Gospel. The book was very challenging and I found it to be a personal blessing.
So I was very excited when I found out Andrew Farley had written a new book. I received a copy of God Without Religion and jumped right in.
Wow! Andrew Farley does not pull punches. Looking at issues ranging from pre-destination and free will to the misguided assumptions about communion and baptism, Farley dives in with both feet. I was very surprised that the author did not hesitate to state his thoughts on these diverse topics and he grounded each section in the Word of God. He also talks quite a bit about our Identity in Christ.
I can't say I agree 100% with all of his conclusions but the book did cause me to step back and ponder what I believe on these topics. It is also worth noting that Andrew Farley does not look at these topics in order to be controversial. His goal seems to be to encourage people to strip away the "Biblical Additives" and to get back to the pure Gospel.
I would highly recommend this book. You will be challenged and you may just find something you've been missing...rest!
You are never too young, too old, too uneducated, too poor, or too busy to serve the Lord!
I wasn’t much older than 20 when I was asked to be a youth pastor. I was the missions director of my church at 15. When I was 21, I traveled with an itinerant evangelist in his late 70’s. I could not keep up with his energy!
It is a sad, but true fact, that over the years, the church has relegated the young and the aged to the pews and youth groups. I have heard numerous stories of people who were told that they needed to be older in order to serve God. I have also seen the elderly members of a church ignored when it came to ministry opportunities.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
How can we do good? By serving others, by loving others and by sharing the truth of Jesus Christ. For that job description, age doesn’t matter.
And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said." (Joshua 14:10-12)
The Bible talks of two kings: Joash who assumed the throne at the age of seven; and Josiah who became king at the age of eight. The Bible says that both of them obeyed the Lord. (2 Kings 12:2, 2 Kings 22:2)
Nor do you need to be educated to serve God. True Biblical education happens when you leave the Bible College, the missionary training school, etc… . It happens just like it did for the apostles…when you rub up against the world. Remember that Peter and a few of the others were just plain old, uneducated fishermen. Yet God used these uneducated men to change the world!
I am not knocking education; however, any education or lack thereof, is not an excuse to sit idly by on the sidelines and hope others will share the love of Jesus Christ. Any one at any age can and should do that. The Great Commission is for all of us!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:8,9).
I mentioned more than once over the years how I struggled with fear, doubt, etc. This experience led to my continually striving to “prove” myself to God. I figured that witnessing for Him would earn His pleasure. Later, as a missionary, I thought that maybe NOW I was doing enough. The feelings continued though. I did not feel accepted though I spent time in pastoral ministry and continually told others about Him! The reason I had no peace was due to the fact that I kept trying to earn something I already had.
John 3:16 says if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life. We are accepted!
I do not have to strive. In fact, by striving to earn a gift God already gave, I am making a mockery of His gift! All I have to do is receive it and rest!
I don’t have to perform like a trained circus animal to earn His love, His mercy and His forgiveness. I already have it.
I need to enter that rest.
Instead of working to earn His pleasure, I need to live in relationship with Him. When I worship Him, spending time growing in my relationship, then I will learn His heart and thoughts. Out of that, work will naturally flow.
I am discovering there was still some meat on some of those bones. Not every experience needed to be thrown out.
I believe God is a God of redemption!
He can redeem the worst situation if we let Him!
As I write about past church experiences, both good and bad, I am finding that not all was as it seems.
Oh the bad experiences WERE bad. However, it is the end result that is different.
Looking back, I see how God was still there, calling, wooing, moving. It took some time (decades) before I saw it.
Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
Now I am seeing His guiding hand as I chart the course that led me to discover my identity in Christ.
Sometimes digging up the past CAN be rewarding!
What is God calling you to do today? What about this week? Next year? Even when we know the plans He has for us, at times, it feels like a big, huge leap of faith. Let's be honest, stepping out in faith can be downright scary! Obviously we need to pray about the things we feel He is calling us to do. Yet, when we know it is God, why do we hesitate?
Is it because we are stepping into the unknown? If we knew where He was taking us or what would be required of us, we might hesitate or even pull a Jonah and run the other way. I know I have felt like doing that before. When Sarah and I felt the Lord calling us to launch Main Street Christian Fellowship, I wanted to hop on the next boat to Tarshish! Actually I didn't really have a destination, I just wanted to run.
Why? I was a bit fearful of stepping out into the unknown. What if we did this and it failed, flopped, etc. What would people think? I really had not thought about what God would think if I failed to obey!
God wants us to step out in faith. To trust that He has everything under control and is aware of what will happen and what is required. Psalm 31:15 says, "My times are in your hands."
I think that's very important to look at. Do I trust that He has everything in His hands? Can I trust that God is God and that He has everything under control? I know the questions that run through my mind. What if? What if (something bad happens; I fail; I look foolish, etc.) are all questions that if we are honest have probably crept up when we feel God is asking us to step out in faith.
Maybe He is calling you to move...or worse for some of us, to stay where we are. Is God calling you to a new project or to drop a current one? Can you trust that He has your best interest at heart?
Stepping into the unknown is scary but well worth the adventure. You might fail. That's ok. Remember that His strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)