Tag Archive for 'heart issues'

maintenance vs sustenance

Maintenance vs. sustenance.
I don’t know if this is a new idea or something that has been brought up to me in that past that I’m just now recalling… but it’s just about to consume me.

I have spent the last several weeks becoming more and more aware of the fruitless pursuits of my life. My intentions are to pursue Jesus with everything, but I’m still continuing in worldly pursuits. Hopefully some familiar imagery of Peter walking on water can help illustrate my point. Peter looks at Jesus walking on the water, sees the impossibility of the entire situation, and is then called to step out. Peter is obedient and steps out. He’s standing on water. In my life, I’m standing on the water, staying afloat, but I’m wearing a life jacket. Jesus isn’t going to look at me and say, “Now that’s faith and obedience right there. You’re standing on the water!” He’d probably shake His head at me as I boast to my friends about the miracle I just performed.

So let me translate this to real life. I know Christ, I understand His calling for all of His followers to go, I go on mission trips to make His Name known, I seek Him to be the first in my life. Yay! I’m walking on water! All of these things truly are miracles and the work of Christ in my life. But what bothers me is this horseshoe life jacket that is kind of itchy and scratches against my neck (you’ve worn one). I’m working an 8am to 5pm job that usually requires me to work 7am to 9pm or 10pm. I have a house. I have a car. I have a wife. I have things.

John 6:26
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

(This post originated a month or so ago. Thankfully I was presented with the above Scripture tonight and was able to draw the parallel to my maintenance vs. sustenance postulate.)
These people had their temporary needs met and they wanted more. Their food digested and they were hungry again… so they went back to the one that met that need. Maintenance.

My car, my clothes, my status, my job, my home, my friends, my salary. All of these things have standards set by someone, somewhere. And I have to meet these standards…. and believe it or not, they’re not easy to meet or maintain. The car breaks, the clothes stain, the weeds grow. Our lives are centered around maintenance… Maintaining an appearance… Maintaining the American Dream.

John 6:27
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jesus said to these people, ‘Look. I’ve got a bread that will satisfy your hunger for eternity. Quit pursuing this earthly bread that doesn’t last and pursue me.’ He didn’t say, ‘Lay back and I’ll give you my bread.’ He said, “Work… for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” Sustenance.

I want to be sustained. Maintaining the things of this life is tiring… and futile. Jesus said that He is the source of food that endures to eternal life. That’s what I want. Don’t give me any of this temporary bread that meets my temporary needs. Give me a bread that ultimately satisfies all of my hunger for eternity. Sustain me with who You are.

 

If you are spending your time or efforts on anything that you can’t take with you when you die… then what is the point? Measure your life up against eternity and you’ll realize that you don’t have any time to waste. Don’t maintain your life, your status, and your possessions. Be sustained… by pursuing Christ and receiving His gift that meets every need and every desire.

people.

People are all around us. Really. They are. Look around you if you don’t believe me. Does that mean anything to you? Do you even care about these people? Jesus didn’t walk around in a bubble. He invested in people… but more than that, He took the time to notice people around Him and talk to them. Do you do that? Do you ever talk to people? Do you ever care about other people’s lives, even a random strangers’?

I meet Wednesday mornings at 5:30 at Waffle House to just ‘do life’ with my best friends. We made a pact of sorts to ask whoever is serving us if there’s anything we can pray about for them. That way, someone has to ask or we end up with an awkward mess among ourselves. It was almost an experiment at first… nervously asking and not knowing what we’d get in return.

You don’t know what someone is going through until you ask. This morning, we asked our waitress if she had anything we could pray about for her. She quickly said “No,” then proceeded to tell us about how her friend had died two days ago and she’s been such a wreck that she can’t even cook without burning the food. Oh… and her grandfather has a brain tumor. Another server didn’t have the money to pay a ticket and was going to end up in jail if she couldn’t pay it in the next 48 hours. A cook who told us he didn’t believe in prayer. Another server who is going through a rough divorce from an abusive husband. The list goes on and on. All from the simple question, “Do you have anything we can pray about?”

People.
You’re one of them.
How many strangers have taken an interest in your eternity? Count them. Go ahead.
Assuming you’re in the majority and have one or two fingers up, this leads me to two questions…

  1. How would you know about Christ’s sacrifice if no one told you or if you didn’t go to church? You wouldn’t.
  2. Do you believe people are ok without Jesus? The easy answer is “No.” But seriously…… do you?

 

(My scathing rebukes are merely my own convictions in my heart.)

my wife.

I have been married to my wife for two years.

I don’t know why she decided to marry me, but I’m glad she did. And all of this gladness is not just from her presence, who she is, or her beauty. This joy and gladness that I have received from my wife is from the direction she has steered my life. If you mentioned it to her, she wouldn’t even take the credit for directing my life… because she did it indirectly through the third strand in our cord.

faith, hope, and lovenot in or for me…

My wife had faith in Jesus. Faith that, while I was wandering in confusion down a wide and paved road, He would guide me to a narrow gate and lead me down a narrow path.

My wife had hope in Jesus. Hope that, while I was struggling in sin and contentment with no end in sight, He was big enough to stop it.

My wife had love for Jesus. A love that, while I was unlovable and an empty cup, He would fill her cup to overflow into mine.

My joy in my marriage to my wife is rooted in the joy of salvation and redemption given by our merciful Redeemer.

My wife loves me. To be loved by my wife is to see the love of Christ. You want a good love story? Love like Christ… and you’ll find a love that’s so much greater than the stories of this world.

despair

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” -2 Corinthians 4:7-12

In my life, I have either been quick to praise God in the good times or quick to call on Him in the bad times, but never at the same time. I need to realize tough times will come and that they are times that should be celebrated and that God should be praised for those times. I’m able to look back on many tough times in my life and now realize that I wouldn’t be at the place I am if those tough times had not come. God has a purpose in all tough times and that purpose is that His life may be revealed in my mortal body. When I can’t see the end, resolution, or the victory to come, I need to realize that is when Christ is carrying me through. I should praise Him in those times because His sovereignty is not for me to question and my feeble, mortal mind would not even be able to comprehend His purpose for my troubles even if it was revealed to me.

When you can’t see the end, resolution, or the victory to come, celebrate. Celebrate Christ’s faithfulness and your weakness. And when you do come out victorious, do not forget that it was not by your power.

unanswered prayer.

I’m writing this from a new mindset that is having trouble recalling my old mindset.
Not that I have a completely different mindset or don’t have the same frustrations. I often found myself frustrated with unanswered prayer. I had several heart issues that I begged and pleaded for God to change. It killed me as I journeyed along with no change.
I struggled for almost a decade with habitual sin. I would plead with God completely prone on the floor with shouts and tears begging and pleading for Him to take it away. I knew He had something greater for me. I knew He didn’t want me in my sin. I knew He was the only one strong enough to free me from my sin. There wasn’t anything I didn’t try to free myself from it. I gave up trying to save myself, I acknowledged my sin, I confessed my sin, I avoided my sin, I did everything… and still nothing. I knew God would surely get me through it, but I couldn’t see an end. The freedom only began when I inadvertently confessed my sin to a group of high schoolers who were struggling with the same thing (James 5:16). I immediately began to feel a freedom, a true freedom from a slavery that I could not free myself from. But not only was I no longer a slave, but I was a son… and now I know that I’m an heir (Gal 4:7).

I suffered for years with disbelief. I remember one time at a small group we were going around the room listing our prayer requests. I told them that I was struggling with disbelief (their disbelief in that moment over what I just said was probably stronger than my disbelief). Why would God love me like He says when I wallow in my filth? I wanted to believe these things, these promises of God, this love that not only overlooks my sin, but covers it completely… I did believe these things. My heart struggled with not being able to grasp these things and completely surrender to them.
A man took his possessed son to Jesus. He brought his son to Him. Then he basically said, “He’s been like this forever. If there’s anything you can do, please help us!” Jesus replied, “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes.” Then the dad said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus healed the boy, but did He do it because of the dad’s belief… or his disbelief… or neither? I don’t know. But I found myself in this man’s shoes. “Look, Jesus. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve done everything I can. I’m turning to you because I have heard that you heal and I believe that you heal, so if you can do anything, please take pity on me and help me.” That was my disbelief. ‘My heart and my soul, I give you control, Consume me from the inside out, Lord.’ I begged and pleaded for God to work from the inside out. Anything I could do was merely skin deep. It required Him, in His own time. I hated that I was struggling with habitual sin and disbelief, but I should have boasted in my weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I also spent what seemed like an eternity struggling with a hardness in my heart. I felt like I had the head knowledge, acceptance, belief of who Christ was in my life, but there was a severe disconnect between my head and my heart. I knew these things to be true, but I didn’t have a heart that was drawn to the things of which God’s heart is drawn. I wanted to love the least, to seek the lost, and for my heart to break. I begged and pleaded and begged and pleaded… and struggled and struggled. It took God, in His time, to crush my heart. It was years before, one night, I broke down in tears in the Wal-Mart parking lot over the fate of one man’s soul I met in Turkey. I knew his fate, his situation, and the futility of his beliefs. I was pressed by knowing that this man was going to Hell… unless someone took it upon himself to build and develop a relationship with this man… which was very unlikely. God is developing in me a heart that is sensitive to what He wants, sees what He sees, and loves as He loves. He has pulled my heart to love inconveniently… love so much that I displace my immediate wants, plans, my entire self. And do it in such a way that I get myself stuck in a situation where God must act, because I am beyond my ability to love or provide. A heart that makes itself available to dive in, jump off, or drown in the unknown because My. God. Is.

I am filled with joy when I can look back at these things and see my perseverance (Rom 5:3,4). If I boast, I boast in Christ. Take heart in your weakness, your frustration, your suffering. There is no such thing as unanswered prayer, because God our Father hears our prayers and responds… beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ because He is faithful… and I can know, that in His sovereignty, He knows better than I do. Know the Lord’s faithfulness and boast in your weakness, your frustration, your suffering. He knows what He’s doing.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-11




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