Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fear of Drowning

Matt. 14:25-33:  Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and cried out in fear. Immediately, Jesus spoke to them. "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it is You," Peter answered Him, "command me to come to You on the water."  "Come!" He said.  And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"  Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt? " When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, "Truly, You are the Son of God!"

I used to hear this story and think it wasn't more than just someone not trusting Jesus, so we need to. Lesson learned. I recently read it, and felt like there was more to it than I originally thought. I began to apply it to my life and fears that I have. There were 4 main points that stuck out to me.

1) These men had walked with Jesus and witnessed Him performing miracles, but when they saw Him walking toward them on the sea, they cried out in fear that He was a ghost. If anyone should be able to recognize Jesus, it should be His disciples. I began to wonder, in my own life, how many times has God revealed Himself to me, and I dismissed it as something else. Maybe not a physical revealing like seeing Him walking on water toward me, but a calling to do something. My initial reaction is to call it something else and turn away in fear.

2) Peter was called to walk on the water, just as he asked. Have you ever prayed for God to use you, but when you felt the calling, you were scared to step out of the boat? It is easy to want to be used but difficult to allow it to happen. If we really feel God has called us to do something, how can we not trust Him. This is the first fear I want to discuss: Fear that God will not come through or a doubt that He will provide or protect. When Peter began to sink, Jesus asked him how he could doubt. It is easy to sit back and wonder the same thing, but there is a calling that I feel God has put in all of our lives, but many of us will struggle with trust. It pulls us out of our comfort zone, so naturally, we began to question it. Why would God want me to do something that feels so uncomfotable? I begin to question His decision making. Obviously, He chose the wrong person.

3) The second fear is me. Even if I believe this is what God wants from me, I am not capable of doing it. I am full of doubt in my own abilities, even though God Himself has called and equipped me with all that is necessary.  Why would God call me to speak publicly, if I am scared of public speaking?  Why would God ask me to witness to someone who has heard the message so many times from others who know the Bible better than I do?  Have you ever felt like Moses in Exodus 4:10?  But Moses pleaded with the Lord, "O Lord, I'm not very good with words.  I never have been , and I'm not now, even though you have spoken to me.  I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled."  Moses would eventually follow his calling and would fair just fine.  Shouldn't we also trust God would come through for us as well.

4) Finally, they worshiped God in the end.  Even after their doubts, they worshiped God when He came through.  God is big enough to bring us through anything that He has called us to do.  Peter began to sink in fear, and Jesus rescued him.  God will not call you into something that He cannot handle...even if we can't.  If we follow the path God has called us to follow, in the end, we will have reason to worship Him.  The problem is that we tend to give up before, or during the journey, and don't see the reason for worship in the end.

My question for you (and me) is this: What are you being called to do, and how will you respond? It may not be a call to solve world hunger but a call to simply forgive someone, share your faith, or to just take time to trust and listen during your current life struggles.  Listen to God, trust Him, and be ready to worship him for what he does in the end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2 Samuel 12:1-13

Sometimes the most basic childhood lessons come back to mean a lot to us as adults. In 2 Samuel 12: 1-13, Nathan tells David the parable of the rich man who takes the only sheep of a poor man to prepare a meal for his guest. David is furious until he finds out that he is the rich man in the parable. David, just like the rich man, took something precious from someone else. How does David react? He commits murder to cover it up, however, God sends Nathan as a messenger to inform David that his son will die because of his sins. Kind of a harsh story on the surface.
Here's what I got out of the story. David tried to hide his sins, even from God, to have what he wanted with no consequences. Are we any different? How often do we blindly justify our sinful ways? We make excuses for what we have done or convince ourselves that we can confess them away in the future. David lost out on a huge blessing in his life (his son), because of his selfish nature. I have to wonder, what blessings have I missed out on because of my worrying more about what's in it for me, rather than, is this pleasing to God? David committed murder and tried to cover it up, but God was watching. This is the basic lesson I was refering to. How often in Sunday School, did we hear that God is always watching us? Maybe we were told this to remind us to always behave, or maybe it was to remind us that we are never alone. Either way, there is truth that we need to remember even as adults. What if we constantly asked ourselves if our actions were pleasing to God? What if we could teach ourselves discipline by simply remembering that God is watching all the time? I think we could even take it one step further. God knew David's heart. He knew David's plans and his lust before he ever acted on them. What if we could discipline ourselves by remembering that God is always listening, even when we don't speak? He knows the thoughts we think and the condition of our heart. My point is not to scare people into righteousness. My point is to point out the opportunity we have for the most amazing relationship with a loving Father we could ever imagine. We don't have to hide anything from Him, because we can't. We can focus on the knowledge that He is always with us, no matter what, and grow in a relationship with Him. He wants a relationship of honesty, trust and love. If we are mad at God or something we don't understand, I think he wants us to talk to Him about it. Too often, prayer becomes asking God to bless our meal, heal a loved one, or give us safe travels, and worship is no more than worship songs sang on Sunday morning. James 5:13 says, "Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone anyone cheerful? He should sing praises." If something has caused bitterness toward God, that is a form of suffering. James says that we should be in prayer. I'm not saying that we should spend our praying time yelling at God, but I think we should be honest with God and ask for understanding. He is the "Father." As a parent there are times when I know my kids are angry with me, and I just want to hear them talk to me about why. God doesn't want to be a vending machine. He wants to be in a relationship.
The second part of James 5:13, addresses worpship. If you are cheerful, sing praises. This includes Monday mornings. If we would spend more time aware of God's presents and give Him praise for the good things in our lives, He will continually become a larger part of our lives. Eventually, we will be aware of His presents in the thoughts we were trying to hide before. Much like excercise, if we don't see results we want immediately, we determine it's not worth the effort. It will take time and patience, but I want to be aware of God's presents in both my actions and my thoughts. Even if that means I have start out with baby steps. Take a look at 2 Samuel 12:1-23. See how David's life is changed. Then ask yourself, how could this apply to my life?

Friday, March 5, 2010

God of Miracles!!

This last weekend, our pastor's dad, Sam May, was injured in a serious accident. At one point, the family was told that he would be able to blink, but that was it. He would never walk, talk or breathe on his own. They were then told that he had developed pneumonia. I can't even imagine how hard that had to be hear. Yet the family's faith is still strong.
Just this week, I have heard of a few similar stories. First is Roni May, wife of Sam May. When she was a baby, her parents were told that she would not survive, and if she did, she would never walk. Those who know Roni, know that she not only walks, but is non-stop energy. Her life is a living testimony.
Today, I heard a story about Tim Tebow, star quarterback for Florida. His parents were missionaries who had prayed for a son to be named Tim. His mom was 37 years old when she was pregnant and had a high risk pregnancy. At one point, she was told that her baby was no more than a tumor and not a child. She was told to have an abortion, or it would likely kill her. She stayed true to her faith in God and later gave birth to a son named Tim. His life is now a living testimony.
Earlier today, I met a young man who was hit by a car when he was 8 years old. He had about a quarter of his brain removed and was pronounced brain dead. His parents were told there was no hope of survival and began to sign paperwork to donate his organs. His dad then gave the situation to God and began to trust Him over the situation. That young man recently graduated high school. His life is now a living testimony.
My brother had testicular cancer that had spread through his entire body. He was able to beat the cancer but was told he would never have any more children. He already had one daughter and has 3 more children since then. My brother's faith during his fight with cancer is what brought me back to Christ. My brother's life is now a living testimony.
Today, while visiting with the May family at the hospital, we recieved news that Sam May had movement in his mouth, was beginning to breathe more on his own, and possibly had some movement in his shoulder. He was also able to communicate with his family by blinking. Although, these may seem like little steps, these were things that doctors said he would not do.
Sometimes, it is hard to understand why God allows things to happen. It took me seeing my brother's faith through cancer to return to Chirst. Other lives have been changed forever by witnessing the other miracles that I have mentioned above, and even more lives are being impacted right now by the amazing faith of the May family. It is hard to understand why God allows things to happen, but God can use even the darkest times for his purpose.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life's Storms

Right now, I am sitting on my back porch and watching an incoming storm. It hasn't reached us yet, but I can tell already that it is going to be a big one. Right now, I am watching the storm from the outside, and that got me thinking. Somewhere, someone is in the middle of that storm. They are possibly worried or scared, but from my point of view, right now it is a thing of beauty. Watching the lightning light up the sky and listening to the distant thunder, while a cool breeze blows in ahead of it.
I wonder if this is how our lives look to God sometimes. When we are in the middle of a storm, I wonder if it is beautiful from God's point of view. How many times does this happen in our lives? Something seems terribly wrong, and in the end, it is a huge blessing. My brother was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. I was at a point in my life that I was questioning God, and this was just one more thing to blame Him for, or use to question if He was even real. My brother's faith during his struggle with cancer, while he lost his job and had to stuggle just to stay alive, is the reason that I returned to church. I would eventually recommit my life, because of my brother's cancer.
I hate that my brother had to go through that, but I believe God allowed it for a reason. I believe God sat outside that storm and saw its true beauty. He knew my brother's faith would be strengthened and mine would be restored.
There have been many "storms" in my life that I couldn't tell you what the blessing out of it was. Maybe I'm not supposed to know. Maybe it wasn't for me. My brother had to live through a storm, and it was my life that was blessed for it. I don't believe that God makes bad things happen to us, but I do believe that He allows them to. He can take bad decisions by us or even others and turn them into good.
When we have our storms, and we begin to blame God, I think we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions. First, why am I blaming God in the first place? He knows more about the situation than I ever will. Instead of blaming Him, maybe we should just trust Him. Finally, am I mad at Him for not meeting one of my wants or one of my needs?
Well, the storm just got here, so I guess I should pack up and head inside. It is now my turn to ride out the storm and let someone else enjoy its beauty from the outside.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Putting CHRIST back in CHRISTmas!

I'm sure you have seen the bumper stickers or t-shirts that say, "Put CHRIST back in CHRISTmas." Here is my question. What exactly does that mean? Unfortunately, I think this, like many other Christian subjects, becomes all about making a point and not sharing Christ's love. There are three groups of people who will see these signs.
1) Those who already know Christ, and very little impact will be made on this group since they already know Christ's love.
2) Those who don't know Christ and take offense to it.
3) Those who don't know Christ and just don't care about it.
I'm not saying that Christians need to sit back and be quiet, because we may offend someone with our beliefs. What I am saying is that we need to put some thought into what our message is. How do we put Christ back in Christmas? How many people will put on these t-shirts or bumper stickers and use that very car to drive by someone who needs help? How many people will struggles through the holidays and never experience Christ's love?
Imagine the impact that could be made if every Christian who spent $15 on these t-shirts, spent that money on peanut butter, jelly, and some bread. Then used that to feed the homeless. Or use it to buy a small toy and deliver it to a child whose parents are unable to provide gifts to their children. That is putting CHRIST back in CHRISTmas. I'm far from perfect, and I only point out flaws that I myself have in order to hopefully inspire others.
I am not saying that everyone who has one of these t-shirts or bumper stickers is doing wrong by having them. It is important that people know there are Christians out there that are not going to just roll over and give up our rights and beliefs. My point is that actions speak louder than words. Wear your t-shirt or drive your bumper sticker covered car out somewhere these holidays and do something. Imagine if every Christian family would perform one simple act of kindness in the name of Christ during the holidays.
I think it is time we start trying to put CHRIST back in CHRISTian!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!!

Christmas is rapidly approaching. For Christmas this year, I am going buy my amazing wife a huge...Sorry, can't tell you right now! She might read this. Christmas is all about tradition for us. There will be presents of course, but I enjoy our family traditions more than anything. On Christmas Eve, we always open one present each...of course, we all know what we are getting... pajamas. Then we will wear these pajamas on Christmas morning. Also on Christmas Eve, we will read none other than "The Night Before Christmas." Christmas day involves one of our newer traditions from a few years ago. We bake a bunch of cookies and deliver them to local firefighters who have to work on Christmas day. We used to deliver to cops and hospitals as well, but Aaron wants us to hunt down all the firehouses this year. It's a great way to teach our kids to give on Christmas.
Of course, there is one more tradition. As always, we celebrate the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, this is a tradition that some are trying to remove, but in our house this is the one part of Christmas that won't change. Other traditions may come and go, but this one will always remain.
If you have an interesting family tradition, let me know. We may steal and make it our own!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Update

Just a quick update for the two people who follow this (me and my wife). The church is now within two months of launching. This weekend there was an article in one of hte local newspapers. The following is a link that includes the article as well as a audio link. A lot has to be done still, but it is all coming together and has drawn a lot of attention.
This week we are heading back to Virginia to visit family and friends for the holidays. There has been some snow up there, so hopefully, the roads won't be too bad. We are finally getting close to having our house unpacked (accept for the huge stack of boxes in the garage, but most of that goes in storage.
No new changes with work. I still start class in January and life will stop as I know it at that point. Lots of studying. Not too much more to update.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Months in the Future...

I haven't been on here in forever, so this will be a combo update/ random thought. First of all, we are in the house finally. We built our first fire and as you can see, the boys loved it. We also built a big fire in the backyard and later found out we needed a permit...oops! The house was empty for a while, but we now have furniture in all the rooms. Thank you Craig's List. Step one of a new house with two boys, get a fence. We had the fence builder on standby for our closing. In no time we had the back yard fenced in and the kids (and us) are loving it.
Next is the job. I start my schooling in January, and I am a little worried about it. It will not be easy, but I will give it all I can. Love the environment that I work in and the job itself. All things worth having take some work (except salvation which can't be had by work and is really the best thing to have, but you get the point).
That brings me to the next big thing. We are just over 2 months away from launching our new church on January 18th. It is getting incredibly exciting, but there is still lots to do. Which is to find the right worship leader, buy everything needed, and figure out how to do everything. Luckily for me, that pressure is all on the lead pastor, because I would go insane (we're praying for you Ryan). It is all coming to together, and God is going to do some great things with this church. Everyone should hurry up and move to Chattanooga and join the team. It's worth it, trust me.
Things have been pretty busy, but I am still loving Chattanooga. I'll try to do better at keeping things updated on here now that we are sort of settled in.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good news and a prayer request...

First of all, let me start with a story that got me excited. I knew a guy in high school, who was kind of the wild one of the group (we all know that one guy). Once, he had a gun pulled on him, and his response was to walk toward the man, ask him who he thought he was, and then chase him out of town (possibly to kill him) before running out of gas. He drove fast, drank a lot, and was simply a bit crazy. Somehow, him and this book nerd seemed to get along great. I recently got some news about him. No, not that he is dead or in prison, but that he had given his life to Christ and has completely changed. As usually, this did two things. One, it got me excited. I love to hear how Christ has helped turn someone's life around. Second, it made me wonder how many times I have been around him or others like him and just assumed there was no hope. You may recognize this thought, "It would only be embarrassing and he/she would never listen anyway. I would hate to make our friendship awkward." Don't get me wrong, I am not ashamed of my faith, but I haven't always shared when there was an opportunity. I am not saying that I (or any Christian) should always be in your face with our faith. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good in many cases. But, God gives us opportunities to establish relationships and make known what our faith is all about. I, like many others, don't always choose to use those opportunities when given. I don't claim to be perfect, but hoping to learn on a daily basis.
Next, I would like to ask for some prayer. Some good friends of ours recently moved to Las Vegas from South Carolina. There son is 3 and spent a lot of time playing with our oldest son Aaron. We recently found out that he is undergoing treatment for cancer. I don't know all the medical terms or lingo, but I do know that he has at least 2 tumors. One of which is on his brain. For his given condition, there is a 35% survival rate. I couldn't imagine getting news like this about one of my boys. I would appreciate any prayers for this young boy and his family. They have a lot of challenges in front of them and they need all the support they can get. Please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Luke turns 2!

Today, our youngest turned two years old. It is hard to believe how fast they grow up. We figured there was no better way to celebrate than to get a bunch of adults together that didn't know each other and celebrate. His birthday became our excuse to have our "launch team" for The Net Church get together. Several of us hadn't met yet, and it turned out to be amazing. We met at a park on the Tennessee River that was amazing (as you can see in the photo). There was lots for the kids to do, and a great opportunity to get to know more people that will be joining us on this adventure of church planting. What an amazing group of people! You know it was a success when your four year old pulls the blanket over his head and goes straight to sleep when you get home. I am excited to get to know more and more people in this area as this becomes a little more like home everyday.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Truely random thought...

We were out at our house taking some pictures today, and I took this one of an old crooked tree in our back yard. Tonight, I was looking at the pictures and noticed some things about it. Nothing too deep but pretty obvious. It is incredibly crooked, it has some pretty big scars, and it is very healthy. This is where the random thought process comes in. I started relating my life to this tree. First of all, the scars. All of us have these in our lives. These are the difficult moments life will throw at us. For this tree, it may have been lightning or another tree falling on top of it. Who knows? My life, like any other has had its share of hard times. Next is the crookedness. This is also pretty easy to apply. Our lives never follow a definite straight path. I would have never thought I would be working where I am, living where I am, and doing many of the things I am doing. Life is constantly changing.
This brings me to the final observation. The health of the tree. I asked myself this, "Why is this tree still healthy with all it has been through?" It is simple, no matter what got in its way, this tree never stopped reaching for the light. How does this apply to my life? I am going to have my share of lightning and other trees falling on top of me through life. That is simply life. The question is how do I react to those situations. Hopefully, like this tree, I will keep focused on the light that gives me strength and will overcome these things to remain spiritually healthy.
Too many times, when life is tough, it is easy to lose sight of the light and focus on what has happened. It is important to take note of these things and grow through them, but it is not right to dwell on them and lose sight of the light.
Obviously, for me, that light is the light of Christ. As a believer, I know the importance of staying focused on his light. I would be a liar to say I have always done so. So, if you ever come to visit our new house, take a look at the old crooked tree (which will probably have to bear the weight of others via a swing, but that's another topic all together), and see if it applies to your life as well. You might be surprised, or you might think I'm a little crazy...Either way, you won't be the first.

Sometimes you have to laugh...

Our oldest is very into helicopters. I recently bought a $5 dvd at Best Buy on how helicopters work and the different kinds. He has fallen in love with this video. He asks to watch it every day...could be worse...could be elmo! Afterwards, he always grabs his toy helicopter and is instantly a pilot. This is similar to me watching a Bruce Lee movie growing up and instantly becoming a ninja...That is until my brother (7 years older than me) quickly reminded how powerless I was. Yesterday, Aaron brought me a red crayon and asked me to draw him a red X, because he needed place to have his helicopter land, just like on TV. I drew his X and went on about my business. Today, he once again sat quietly in our bedroom and watched his helicopter movie with toy helicopter in hand. This is where I failed...We later came to our bedroom and found several red X's all over our bed. I had neglected to ensure he no longer had possesion of the red crayon. The blanket and sheets on our bed are now equipped with enough landing pads for a dozen helicopters. All I could do was laugh.