Monday, April 27, 2020

Peace is Found in the Surrender~

Sports and me?

let's just say
we're not as close as
peanut butter and jelly
or mac n cheese.

In fact,
when it comes
to sports in general,
I've always tried
to keep a safe distance
between them and me.

And yet,
I have found myself
actively engaged
in an activity
of a sporty nature.

And not just any sport,
mind you.

No - the sport
I have found myself
thrown into
is oddly
(or maybe not odd at all)
the one that allows
the least distance
between competitors.


If ever there was a
no space between,
contact sport -
wrestling is it.

As to the hows and whys
that brought me to this place,
and positioned me on this mat,
most likely this will all unravel
in future posts -
(I'm still processing it all -
because you know as well as me,
whenever God is in it,
it can be overwhelming
and it takes some time
to find the appropriate way
to communicate His move
in ways that do justice
to the all of who He is),
but for now -
it's safe to say,
this wrestling has done it's job.
(at least for the moment)

And that's the thing about wrestling:
in order to stay in the game,
in order to gain an advantage,
in order to pin your opponent,
and be declared the winner,
you have to
lean into,
press against,
and lay all your weight up against,
the one you are wrestling with.

Thankfully for me,
I have no problem
at all
leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
on the one I'm wrestling.

In fact,
it is the very close proximity
and the very nature of wrestling
that has positioned me
right where I need to be:
leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
on my Jesus.

I couldn't be
in a better place.

So, while sports
definitely aren't my thing,
I've come to love wrestling.

Not for the sake of wrestling,
because anyone who has wrestled
knows it can twist you
and turn you in some
unique and unusual positions
before the match is over,
wearing you out
and leaving you flat on your back
with nothing left to give,
but simply for the fact
that it brings me
so close,
so very, very, very close
to the heart
of my Father.

So close,
I can hear the beat
of His heart
and soon,
amid all the huffing and puffing,
amidst all the tossing and turning,
in spite of all the moaning and groaning,
(from me - never my Lord)
my own heart beat,
my own breaths,
begin to fall into rhythm
with His.

And like Jacob,
who wrestled
with His Lord, too,
when you come away
from the match,
you are changed -
in ways you can't even explain,
but in ways you can't deny.

And while some might feel
it is irreverent
to wrestle with the Lord,
I would humbly disagree,
for the place I have been,
the position I have found myself in,
this place of wrestling,
of leaning into,
pressing up against,
and laying all of my weight
upon my Savior
has been nothing less
than sacred and holy.

Through this wrestling,
God has
met me,
held me,
challenged me,
instructed me,
re-positioned me,
and humbled me.

He has
given me deeper insight
into who I am
in light of who He is,
and has shown me unquestioningly
the areas of my life
where spiritually speaking,
I am still so
vulnerable and weak.

And while most wrestlers
play to win,
the greatest lesson I have learned,
while wrestling with my Lord
is preciously and powerfully this:

Peace is found in the surrender.

When King Jesus is
finally and officially
declared the winner,
peace reigns supreme.

Yes, anything that draws us
closer to our Lord
is a blessing.

And for me
the blessing has come
through wrestling -
a wrestling, which in turn,
brought me to place of
willful surrender,
which ushered in
the peace
that passes all understanding.

And even though,
someone watching from the sidelines
would declare Jesus
the true winner in this match,
(which He unequivocally is -
always and each and every time,
for all time)
I have to say,
and forever give thanks,
that my losing me
to better
serve and love Him
has me
feeling like a winner, too.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Do the Unthinkable~

So many times in life
we find our self
in a place where we never
thought we would be.


The list could go on and on -
but, you don’t need me to identify your present location.
You are there.
You already know the place where you are all too well.
And, you feel trapped.
You feel as though you have no way out.

Either by choices we have made
or circumstances beyond our control,
life takes an unexpected turn,
down an unanticipated path,
to a never before imagined,
unthinkable place.

Before we know
what has happened
or where we are,
we find our self
behind locked bars
with no key and no way out.

I know.
I’ve been there.
So have Paul and Silas.

Acts 16, NLT
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and thrown in jail. They found themselves in a place where they never thought they would be. It wasn’t their choice to be where they were. It was the choice of the angry mob. Yet, here they were. Mistreated. Locked up. Trapped.

Sometimes we, too, find our self in a place not of our own choosing.
Someone else or circumstances out of our control have made the choice for us.

We didn’t want a divorce.
Cancer wasn’t in our plans.
We did nothing to deserve being abused or mistreated.
Yet, it happened.
We were stripped of our dreams,
beaten down by something outside of our self,
and thrown into our situation.

We are there -
seated right beside Paul and Silas.

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, 
and the other prisoners were listening.

Amazingly enough,
despite what they had just experienced
and in spite of where they now found themselves,
Paul and Silas decided to pray and sing.


Life sent them to an unthinkable place
and in turn, 
they did they unthinkable.

With feet bound,
and flesh torn,
they praised God.

Those around them couldn’t help
but hear the praises
flowing from their hearts.

Chances are you
are not alone
in your unthinkable place.

If you look around,
you will discover others
going through the same experience you are.

Could it be you have
found yourself in this place
by no choice of your own
because God has plans to use you
to bless others who are walking this road with you?

26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Paul and Silas chose to praise God
and when they did,
God responded.

And, don’t miss this!

Their praise not only set them free,
but it brought freedom to the entire prison.
EVERYONE in the prison was set free.

Today in the very midst of your situation,
I challenge you to praise God -
not silently, but boldly.

Praise Him with everything you’ve got!
Praise Him no matter where you are
and no matter who may hear.
Praise Him from the very depths of your heart.

Like Paul and Silas,
your praise has the potential
to not only set you free,
but to loose the chains
of all those imprisoned with you!

27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer was the one responsible
for all the prisoners.
This was his job.
This is what he had been told to do.
This was his place in life.
Yet, when the prisoners appeared to be free
and he thought his job and his life were over,
he almost killed himself.

Chances are the ones in your life
who have been holding you prisoner
are in this place because
this is what they know.
This is what they have been taught.
This is where life has placed them.

Those who have been abused often abuse others.
Hurting people hurt people.
But notice,
through the power of praise,
even the jailer -
the one holding them captive -
was set free!

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” (Act 16)

Did you notice the jailer
brought them out of the jail.
They didn’t remain where
they once were
now that they had been set free.

When God opens
locked doors in our life
we can’t dilly dally around
and stay in the place
that once held us captive.

We must get out.
We must move 
into the new place of freedom 
God has for us.

The jailer knew this.
He wanted nothing to do
with the old place he had been.

And, he wanted whatever it was
Paul and Silas had.

He wanted joy -
the kind that makes you sing
when you are imprisoned.

He wanted power -
the kind that opens prison doors
and sets captives free.

Most of all, though -
He wanted to experience
true freedom in Christ.
He (the only one physically free)
wanted to truly be set free!

It doesn’t matter where you are today.
It doesn’t matter if you are there
because of choices you made
or choices someone else made.  
All that matters is that God is there with you.

Like Paul and Silas, you can be set free.
Like Paul and Silas, God can use you to set others free.
The choice is yours.

Are you in an unthinkable place today?

Then, like Paul and Silas - do the unthinkable.

and watch God do the unthinkable!

Watch God move!
Watch God shake your world!

Watch God open the doors
and loosen the chains
and set you
and everyone around you,


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Settle~

Dust settles.

When life stirs it up,
it simply settles,
however and wherever.

Although made of dust,
when life stirs you and me up
through hardships,
and dead ends,
you and I
should be very intentional
as to
and how
we settle.

Through each of these
"dust flying moments",
God can work a work in us
that will far outweigh
and greatly exceed
any inconvenience,
any anger,
any hopelessness
we might experience
in the midst of it.

Our job is not
to simply "settle"
for what life hands us;
our job is to place our life
in God's hand
and allow Him
to use every bit of it
to settle us
in Him.

And after you have 
suffered a little while,
the God of all grace
[Who imparts all blessing and favor],
Who has called you to His [own]
eternal glory in Christ Jesus,
will Himself complete
and make you 
what you ought to be,
establish and ground you securely,
and strengthen,
and settle you.
~1 Peter 5:10 (AMP)

Don't ever settle
for anything less
than God's best for you.

Don't ever settle
until God, Himself,
has settled you.