Saturday, August 27, 2016

Jesus Brings Joy to My Soul

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Romans 13:11-12

Things don't always work out the way we plan or the way we hope.  Sometimes life can be hard.  I know many who've been through much worse than us.  But we each have our own pain and carry our own burdens.  

This year we went through a miscarriage, a new experience for me and certainly for Leslie.  On top of that, I've had asthma problems that I've never really had before.  I went to the urgent care earlier this year because I thought I was having heart problems.  It turns out it was asthma.  We also both got the flu, which is unusual for me.  For the past month, I've had a bronchitis cough and wake up at night coughing.  It's annoying.  

And, on top of all of that, law school, which can be grueling and extremely demanding, but also very rewarding.  The Apostle Paul wrote, after describing much that he had been through, said, "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."  (II Cor. 11:28).  I would re-write the Scripture to say, "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of law school."  Although I try to keep a good but flexible schedule, it is hard to stay on top of everything.  This week, despite my intense planning for my 3rd and final year of school, something was wrong with my schedule and I had to make a change.  I worked so hard to get things right, only to find out I did something wrong.  That's life... no matter how hard we try to do right sometimes, we still make mistakes.    

Anyways, I'm not writing this to draw attention to myself.  I know some who are going through difficult things in their lives, probably more difficult than what I've experienced this year.  Nevertheless, God is working.  I believe the Lord is calling us to set all of this aside, fix our eyes on Him, and, in the words of a Casting Crowns song, "Just be held."  If we will take the time to truly seek Him, we can find all that we need in the arms of our Father.

Last night, in my dream, there was a song.  It went something like this:  "Jesus…Jesus… Jesus brings joy to my soul.  My rest is complete, when I sit at your feet, Jesus brings joy to my soul."  Despite everything going on, I keep hearing and feeling the call of God to lay everything aside and seek Him.  Sometimes that is hard to do when I'm under a school deadline.  I wake up in the morning knowing I need to make certain progress, and what gets cut out from life?  Time with Jesus.  Time with him, however, is much more important than all of this stuff of earth.  

I've posted a few pictures below from our camping trip earlier this year.  One of my favorite past times is swimming in waterfalls.  I love to immerse myself in the water.  It is so incredibly refreshing.  That's what time with Him is like.  When we get in His presence, He fills us with peace, with joy, with rest.  That's what I need to do right now, so I'm going to end this blog and do just that.  Good night, and God Bless!  May you be filled with His joy and peace!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Faith and Prayer: Thoughts from Our Experience at the Billy Graham Library

Recently Leslie and I visited the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina.  I was impressed by the simplicity of Billy Graham’s life and ministry.  I believe Billy Graham to be a man of genuine humility and purity.  He said, “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”  Everything he has done seems to be centered around that simple goal.  As we moved through the library, two things struck me:  Faith and Prayer. 

At least 2-3 times in the library, as I recall, Billy expressed his simple faith in God’s Word.  He said, “I have had the privilege of preaching the Gospel on every continent of the world.  And I have found that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is presented, with authority, quoting from the very Word of God – He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.” 

Often I don’t understand a lot that is going on in my life, with my family and friends, or with the world around me.  And God is not obliged to explain everything to me.  But I have found that when I put my faith in God’s Word, even when I don’t understand it, it makes a real difference.  When I take His Word at face value and apply it to my life by study, meditation and declaring it over my life, it is effective. 

It seems to me that there are some of us who go through life as victims, and some as victors.  Often, I am guilty of playing the victim.  A victim mentality can be shown in an attitude of ungratefulness, anger, and resentment towards those around us.  A victor, however, has a grateful attitude despite setbacks and difficulties.  A victor does not deny problems or reality, but presses on with strong faith in God. 

Joyce Meyer, an excellent Bible teacher, stated that her father raped her at least 200 times (see here).  I can’t imagine the shame and emotional pain she endured.  Over the last year or so, my wife has been enjoying the ministry of Beth Moore.  Beth Moore was also a victim of sexual abuse (see here).  One thing I notice about these women is they don’t have a victim attitude, but the attitude of a victor.  They don’t have an attitude of ungratefulness and resentment, but an attitude of faith.  I’m sure their journey towards healing and victory was not easy, but I’m certain it involved faith. 

We all have pain to some degree or another.  The world is full of pain.  And God cares about your pain.  He has a pathway for healing for each of us, if we will embrace it.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).  That pathway involves faith in God’s Word.  His word “is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Ps. 119:105).  Hebrews 12:12-13 says, "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."  It’s easy to complain; it takes courage and humility to express faith in God’s Word.  To lay a road for healing, we must humbly accept God’s word planted in us, which can save us (see James 1:21). 

Billy Graham said, “There are three elements to Crusade preparation:  Pray, pray, pray.”  And he said, “The secret is not me…The whole secret of the success of our meetings is spiritual - it’s God answering prayer.  I cannot take credit for any of it.”  It’s no surprise that the secret to success is prayer.  It was Jesus’ secret as well.  Luke 5:15-16 says of Jesus, “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not praying, I can feel it.  I’m more irritable (just ask my wife) and overall struggle with life more.  But when I pray, I feel God’s presence, His peace, and His love working in me and through me. 

The world is in desperate need of God’s love.  But how can we show that love without God’s love flowing through us?  Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  Prayer is an act of humility, recognizing that we cannot do life on our own.  Billy Graham said, “People do not come to hear what I have to say.  They want to know what God has to say.”  That’s what it is all about, not seeking our own will, but seeking to do the will of our Father in heaven (see John 5:19).    

I hope this article has been a blessing, challenge and encouragement to you.  God loves you very much.  With Christ, all things are possible.  And all things are possible when we pray and move in faith.    

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...