Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stop Washing Your Hands

Matthew chapter 27 speaks of the account of Jesus trial before Pilate, His beating, and His death. If you claim to follow Christ, there is no way to simply just read this and move on to other things. Every time I pass through this chapter my heart and soul is convicted all over again to realize that this loving God would pay such an ultimate price for me.

I focused today on His trial that was held under the direction of Pilate. Pilate held within his grasps the opportunity to release Jesus. He had the privilege to look into the eyes of Christ...he heard even from his wife concerning a nightmare she had concerning this man. One has to believe that he knew deep within his heart that this man called Jesus was innocent.

Yet, the crowds cried, "crucify Him!"

Forest Hill, MD
Knowing that he released one prisoner a year during the Passover, Pilate came up with this 'brilliant' plan that he would put Jesus up against Barabbas (a notorious murderer)...surely the crowds would want to release Jesus over this man. But we all know the rest of the story...Pilate washed his hands before the crowd as a symbol of deferring all responsibility of Jesus death from himself.

The crowds still affect us today. We have these God inspired dreams and passions that He places within us...yet we try to defer all responsibility to the shouting of the voices around us. We do our best to trade off what we know are the right decisions, then symbolically wash our hands trying to deflect what that is truthfully ours to begin with.

Today, each of us holds within our grasps the opportunity to do the right thing. To make the decisions that, while they may go against the grain, are the God-ones to make.

You can wash your hands all you want to and claim to not be influenced by the 'crowd' of noise shouting...but every single one of us will stand before Him one day and will have the privilege of looking into His eyes just as Pilate did.

Right then and there, it is going to hit you...It was my decision to make all along.
(Snow Drive)
Forest Hill, MD

Let it sink in now...
"God's ways are not mans ways...neither are His thoughts our own." Stop washing your hands and deflecting the choices you make to 'others'.
Pilate could never get this choice he made off his hands.

If we continue to let our personal God-decisions be influenced by the crowd, we might just be destroying the dream He has planned all along to accomplish with us. Take some time and block out the voices...get alone with Him and make a God-Decision. It might not get you a pat on the back or 5,000 Facebook friends...but it will get you two words that will ring in your heart for all eternity - "Well done."     

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Watch the Donkey...

Everyone believes they have what it takes within them to be a leader. Let me rephrase that...many want the 'perks' that seem to come along with leadership.

Have you ever made the statement, "If I were in charge, then 
(fill in the blank) would happen." "I wish I could have the power and influence that he/she enjoys." What many fail to realize is there is a price to pay for being a leader. Not only that, a calling and gift from God is placed on certain individuals to fulfill His purpose and plan. 
But there is always a price tag that comes with leadership.

(Central Park)
New York, NY
Ask Abraham. Who wouldn't want to be the father of nations? 
Who would not want to have your lineage be numbered as the sand on the seashore?
Who wouldn't want to be ask to take your only son Isaac - lay him on an altar and sacrifice his life as an offering to God?

Woah...wait a minute. That wasn't in my leadership manual 101.

In life, we have to many that set their sights on being an Abraham...yet God has placed a calling upon them to simply be a servant to His called leaders.

Lost in the story of Abraham and Isaac's worship encounter with God are the servants. While Abraham and Isaac are the main characters, the servants have a role that not many have a desire to fill.
In Genesis 22:5, Abraham said to his servants: "Stay here with the donkey...The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back."

Forest Hill, MD
Everyone in this story had responsibilities:
- Abraham had to lead.
- Isaac had to follow.
- The servant had to watch the donkey.

Too many live there lives continuing to pray that God would use them, when in truth, they choose not to accept the opportunities He has already placed before them to serve.
Not everyone is called to lead. Leaders must have followers in order to be called a leader. And there is no more miserable person than one who is called to watch over the donkeys, but chooses to remain set on a course to 'their own will' and not His.

Some would say that to have this mindset would be to 'settle' for less than you could be, when in reality, what it really comes down to is a 'submission' issue.
Humble yourself. Submit to the calling of the cross. Follow Him. 
And be willing to watch the 'donkey' if He asks you too.

Remember...all are called to serve. And in the end: "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:16)

Watching the donkeys doesn't sound quite so bad huh?

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Fenced In

What do you do when you don't know what else to do?

Do you stomp off in a fit of rage and slam the car door when you get in? Do you crawl over in a corner and pout? Are you one of those who loves confrontation and does not mind at all speaking out how you feel?

This world is full of individuals who respond to these 'moments' in many different ways. I am not so concerned with what our reaction is today as I am about what it is that gets us to these moments. Life can throw curveballs that come at the speed of fastballs to our lives.
We might not have seen it coming, yet a reaction is going to take place.

(Winter Snow)
Forest Hill, MD
It kind of reminds me of dogs.
I've heard the statement many times: "If you are going to run with the big dogs, then you're gonna have to get off the porch."
While it is true that we must get off the porch and move...that does not tell us that we should chase every car that comes down our street either.

Many find themselves back up on the porch. Every dream that has come their way they have chased, only to have it get out of sight. Then when they don't know what else to do, they stomp off back to the porch and just lay down.
Others have literally run themselves ragged and are still chasing that elusive 'thing' that they just can't get their hands on.

Sometimes we need to realize that God has us right where we need to be, and that is living in the yard He wants us in.
His word - His leading - His Spirit has put a 'hidden fence' around us for protection and love.

(Fenced In - Winter)
Forest Hill, MD
Instead of wasting our time 'chasing cars', I wonder if we could become satisfied with standing where we are for a while?
As scripture tells us, 'when you have done all you know to do...just stand.'

For if we submit ourselves to the master, at His house:
- We find peace.
- We find love.
- We have every need supplied.
- We have relationship.

As things that look so good 'pass by', don't always give in to the urge to chase...many times God desires for you to simply stand.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the Jacob Fast

The first part of a brand new year brings personal resolutions, commitments, and new opportunities to start things off the right way in our lives. The old year may have been one that you would like to forget, and with everything inside of us we give it all we have to make sure that the new one will not be a repeat.

I have been so encouraged to see that prayer and fasting has been committed to by so many during the first part of this year. I have noticed that many have chosen to take part in the Daniel fast which is a wonderful experience.

(Maryland Snow)
Forest Hill, MD
As of late though, I have embarked upon a journey that has been born out of desperation.

Have you ever had a moment (or moments) where you found yourself angry with God? I don't mean the kind of anger that makes you desire to stop serving Him, because that kind of attitude should never enter our minds.
I'm talking about an anger that comes from a desperate heart that has had enough with a current situation you find yourself in.
You serve. You sacrifice. You give. You pray. You fast. You take up your cross and follow.
And yet, the more you do so, the more (fill in the blank) happens. You seem to overcome and yet, the ugliness crops back up. The light seems to show up at the end of the tunnel, then an avalanche of whatever covers up the light.

I don't care who you are or what you've done, if you are human it has happened to you.

(More Maryland Snow)
Forest Hill, MD
I just wonder if God is trying to push some of us toward a different kind of prayer and fasting experience? It is an experience that can only be done by those desperate enough to ram your feet in the ground and say, ENOUGH! I am tired so tired and hungry for an answer, that I will do whatever it takes for You to bless me.

God is love. God is a provider. God is our hope. God is our peace. He is our father...and if our earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, then how much MORE does our heavenly Father know how to give to His kids? (Matthew 7:11)

It is scriptural to embark upon your fasting and prayer journey in secret...but I felt to share this with someone who, at this moment in your walk with Christ, has just about given up.

Would you join me as we embark upon a Jacob fast? A fasting and prayer journey that says, "God, I will not let you go until..."
In Genesis 32, Jacob was returning to his homeland and was so afraid that Esau was going to kill he and his family that he did everything that was humanely possible to appease him. Jacob knew that it was only God who was going to have to fulfill the promise given to him. So he simply would not let go.

This kind of prayer and fasting is one of life's ultimate wrestling matches, because you are not stopping until God's promise to you becomes a reality.
Desperation hungers to push the plate back.
Desperation has a passion to give up something for a while in order to receive your answer.

(Fence Row - Snow)
Forest Hill, MD
If my God is really who He says He is (and He is), then it is about time to see His greatness fulfilled in our lives. Don't quit. Don't surrender. Get a grip on Him and don't let go until...

Benjamin Franklin said, "He that lives upon hope will die fasting."

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Keep on...

When I stay in hotels, I appreciate greatly those ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs that you can hang on the outside of your door…even though many times they go unnoticed by housekeeping J. Closed doors give us what so many long for…privacy.
If a door is closed, we know that we should knock on it and not enter until someone tells us that it is ok to do so.
But if we approach a door that is open with even the slightest crack in it, we feel that it is all right to knock and walk on in at the same time.

Spiritually though, we get this ‘open door’ thing all clouded. In Revelation 3:8, Jesus said, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” So why then do we not walk on in?

(Jerusalem Mill area)
Bel Air, MD
Far too many times, just because the door doesn’t immediately swing WIDE, we just stop knocking on it. Some doors are heavier than others, so it’s going to take a confident knock on it to push it on open. We must get rid of this timid spiritual attitude that causes us to tap on open doors that Christ has placed before us.

Matthew 7:7 says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

My kids have no lack in the confidence area when it comes to continually asking for what they want. I will say, “not right now.” But do you think that stops them? Absolutely not. They keep on…and keep on…and keep on.
Because they are desperate for the door to swing WIDE open.

(Deer Creek U.M.C.)
Forest Hill, MD
The door that has been set before you is open so…
- Keep on asking.
- Keep on seeking.
- Keep on knocking.

If it doesn’t open today, knock again tomorrow.
If you don’t see what you prayed for today answered, ask again tomorrow.

Stop being timid when you knock. Hit the door with everything you’ve got, because sometimes He (like we parents are with our kids) wants to see just how desperate you are for an answer.

Keep on…

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just a Normal Day

"If only I could have just a normal day." We've all thought it...we've all said it at some point. 

Life consistently comes at us with all its fury filling our schedules with responsibilities that have to be met. We often wonder when and if things will ever slow we simply begin to hope for normal.
No craziness. No blindsides. No tough situations. Can I just have a day that goes normal? 

We often pray for what we consider normal yet in most cases we don't realize what we are asking for. 
Normal makes us forget about what is most important.

How many times has 'normal' caused you to feel that you needed to pray more?
Those normal relaxing days, do they cause you to realize your need for relationship?

We do not need more 'normal' ... What we really need are more days that shake us out of our fleshly belief that we are in control. 

This walk with Christ is anything but normal. 
"His ways are not our ways ... his thoughts are not our thoughts."

The disciples that encountered Jesus were given an anything but normal opportunity. Immediately stop what you know to be a 'normal' day and just follow this man whom you have just met. 
- I know you do not know where you are going...but follow me.
- I know you may not understand everything about me...but just follow. 
- You may not feel worthy, but don't worry, I already know the intent of your hearts...just follow me.

Nothing is done," Lincoln Steffens once wrote. "Everything in the world remains to be done--or done over. The greatest picture is not yet painted. The greatest play isn't written. The greatest poem is unsung." What many fail to realize though is the greatest songs, paintings, companies, and individuals who have ever been, got to their achievement in any way but normal. Their was a price to pay in order to obtain greatness. 

God help us to stop asking for normal days, and start believing for days that will test, try, and push us toward His purpose. This road will not be easy, but are guaranteed to never have a dull moment. 

Here's to a 2011 that is filled with anything but 'normal.'  

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