Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ripple Effect

One of my all time favorite things to do in life is get away deep in the northern woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and take a walk along the dirt road that leads to a small foot bridge that over looks Piatt Lake to the west and the Lagoon to the east.  On a calm, sunny day when the water is like a sheet of glass, it is easy to catch a glimpse of a water bug skimming along the top of the water, a turtle popping out for a sun bath or a fish jumping to crest the surface.  This is creation in all of its beauty!  These actions will produce a ripple, a disturbance, in the calm of the water spanning in all directions.  This last summer my kids and I spent hours in this spot watching the water for these things, and before long we were doing what comes natural.  We picked up stones and sticks, and threw them in to make our own ripples.  It was effortless to cast a stone and then hypnotically watch the ripples move across the water.

Recently in Japan, we have been reminded just how devastating ripples can actually be when the force causing the ripple and the size of the wave out-scale its surroundings.  The whole world can be affected.

Have you considered the Ripple Effect?

In Joshua 7, Joshua and the Israelites experienced a pretty dramatic ripple effect.  One of the instruction that God had given them as they pursued victory over Jericho was to set a side all the spoils to Him.  No keeping any gold, silver, jewels, or clothing for themselves!  All of it was to go to God.

Can you picture the setting?  Israel was enjoying the moment.  They once again witnessed the amazing power of God and the continued fulfillment of His promises in the victory.  But one man throw a stone of trouble.  Achan looked at the spoils,wanted what he saw and stole from God!

Next, Israel was headed into another battle with a lesser power in the city of Ai.  Israel sized them up and confidently attacked only to be soundly defeated because the Lord was very angry with the Israelites because of Sin in the camp! (Joshua 7:11)

The small decisions of one man rippled out to affect the condition of an entire nation.  Men died in battle that day resulting in wives without husbands, children without fathers and mothers without sons.  More importantly a nation now had a holy God who's anger was set against them.  Achan, his family and a nation would now have to suffer the consequences in the Valley of Achor (Trouble).

Now consider the Ripples that your life may be creating.  Are you throwing stones of trouble?  (Joshua 7:26)

I am concerned that we all too often steal from God when we look at life selfishly, believe and repeat the lies of temptation and hide sin deep in our hearts much like Achan.  These ripples of trouble are devastating!   The choices we make in our lives affect more people than just ourselves.  Beware of the temptation to rationalized your sins by saying they are too small or too personal to hurt anyone but you.

Get Up!  Purify yourself! (Joshua 7:13) Today you can experience the peace of God that comes through the cleansing power of confession and repentance so that your life will produce ripples of peace and love.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Being God's Servant

John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am,
my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  NIV

Here Jesus lays out the reality that if you want to be about Serving Him then you must Follow Him.  They go hand in hand.  If anyone should know, it would be Jesus.  He is the consummate example of Service, Humility and Obedience as seen in Philippians 2:5-8.  Jesus humbled himself, took on the form of a servant and became obedient to God in all things till death on a cross.

We are to be as Jesus is a Servant, Humble and Obedient.  Matthew 20:27-28 describes Jesus’ intentions for coming to earth by coming to serve and give His life as a payment for humanity's debt to sin and death.

What does Being God’s Servant look like?  It may look a little different than you think initially.  Consider the picture below. 

In Henry Blackaby’s book Experiencing God, he describes his understanding of being a servant God is more like the Potter and Clay imagery found in Jeremiah 18:1-6.  Clay is to be useful by being moldable and once it is formed into a vessel then it must remain in the Potter’s hand for His use.

As Servants of God, we must allow God to mold us into whatever He desires and then remain available for the Master’s use.  Servants can do nothing on their own or in their own strength. Even Jesus knew this.  In John 5:19, He said that He could do nothing on His own and in John 15:5 He transfers that ability to do nothing on to us by stating that we can do nothing without Him. These words should mean something to you if you have been guilty of trying to do something in your strength. 

As Servants of God, we are the vessels that He creates to accomplish His desires and plans.  He molds us and we get to be available to be used by God to do great and mighty things for God.  Servants of God allow God to work and God to get all the glory.

I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:16-39.  Take some time to read how God’s People had turned from God to the worship of Baal and it took a Servant of God to challenge the false prophets to a public showdown of faith and worship.  Elijah was out numbered 850 to 1, but Elijah was created (molded) for this moment.  He was willing to let God work through him to do something amazing for His Glory.   Elijah obeyed God and God rained fire from heaven and God consumed the gallons of water and the sacrificed offering.  In the end, God did a mighty work through his Obedient Servant and there was no doubt where the power came from – GOD!

Consider how you lived out your life this week.  Were the words you spoke, the places you went, the actions you took, and the attitudes you expressed characterized as a Servant of God in Humility and Obedience?  How have you specifically Obeyed God (available to let God work through you) this week?

If you are having difficulty in finding specific ways in which you obeyed God this week, then perhaps the outflow of your life has been a result of devout service to Self, Sin or Something or Someone other than God.  If this is true, I suggest you confess and allow God to restore you to your rightful place of service to the one True Master and embrace His Honor according to John 12:26.

May the Master Potter be allowed to shape your life and use you abundantly this week for His Glory!

The IDEAL Family or REAL Family?

I Love this Family!

BUT, TV, Media, U-verse is a poor (sad) alternative for strong Biblical Parenting for our families.  This video is funny because it is such a distorted picture of what actually happens in the home and around the dinner table with our families.  As a Parent, I realize that I am the major Spiritual Influencer for my Family. It is my responsibility (really my pleasure) to raise, guide and influence my family to be real, in a real world.

Remember the Ideal Family is NOT Fake like the one in the Video, but Real with Real issues.  A Real Family is influenced for Christ by the Parents first and then the Church to deal with conflicts, embrace sadness and hurt, seek forgiveness, forebear much, respect appropriate boundaries, obey authorities, follow instructions, serve others first,  and intentionally love each other above all things so that Grace, Peace,  Hope and Joy prevail.

Be that Intentional Parents!
Deuteronomy 6:5-9