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heart

Finding Jesus in the Chaos

By | Blog, Equip, Headfirst, Personal

You may have seen the jokes posted with the tag #FirstWorldProblems.  They ridicule the frustrations of our lives in contrast to the life struggles of the 3rd World.  Some are mean-spirited, but many raise awareness that sometimes our “big problems” are insignificant when held up to the “big picture.”  I’d like to offer one contrast of my own: Too busy for God.  This applies to Christ-followers and unbelievers, but my comments here are intended for the believers who are drowning in this conflict every day.

This isn’t a book, so let’s skip the chapter where I try to convince you that there is chaos in your life and you’ve allowed it to distance you from God.  If you don’t have this problem, move along.  I do, so I’ll just write for myself and you’re welcome to read along as an observer.  (Yeah, I just said that I have chaos in my life, and even the calling to lead a missions ministry has not made me immune.  Actually, it contributes, just like any other occupation.  It just has it’s own unique twists.)

So let’s embrace reality: my work, recreation, health, family, iPhone, friends, hobbies, travel, responsibilities and to-do lists…  they’re all part of a noisy, clanging, distracting battle where focusing on God and my relationship with Him gets obscured and lost.  Not because they are bad things, but because they aren’t Him.  They don’t simply dovetail into a beautiful symphony.  Some people recognize this, begin to re-prioritize, and re-launch the search for the elusive “balance.” (Surely if all my choices are honoring to the Lord, then everything will supernaturally sync.  Right?)

Let’s go after this from the other direction.  I want to find Jesus.  I want Him everywhere in my life.  I want to walk with Him but my life is full of chaos.  Not because I’m making horrible unbiblical decisions.  Rather, because I don’t live in the Garden, and I’m plagued by the consequences of sin and all its deformities.  Death and disease have come into this world, and I must work and sweat and battle.1  Jesus has won the war and I am victorious in Him, but every day until His Kingdom, I must battle.  One of those battles is against chaos.

There are two pillars I’ve learned that guard my soul in the fight against chaos so that I might walk closely with God.  Their names are Peace and Order.  We need to see that when we instill peace in our lives, we restrain chaos.  Peace means more than quiet (though silence is certainly peaceful.)  Quieting my heart means slowing, slowing, stopping.  My mind begins to drift to other thoughts that are not of Jesus…  stop.  Come back.  Slow.  Easy.  Nothing else, just Him.  Peace means surrender – of my soul.  Learning to be present in His presence.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”2  How could my heart be still then?  Only in my abandon to the Shepherd of my soul.

Order also restrains chaos.  It is more than structure – putting things in their places so that nothing distracts.  Order is intentionality.  Singularity of purpose.  I have no other agenda.  The Creator brought order out of chaos.  He can do the same in the depths of my heart.  “No weapon forged against you will prevail.”3  Purposefully give Him His rightful place and deny that which brings distraction and disharmony.

When I guard my heart and mind in Christ, when I let His peace and order reign over me, the chaos fades and I can find Jesus.  It’s not easy – surrender never is.  I must lay my will down and lift His cup.  “Not my will but yours be done.”4  It happens in His power or we fail every time.  I’ve been learning to invite God into moments and to ask Him to help me yield to Him.  To usher in His peace and His plan… and to let me come to a stop and purposefully surrender, that I might know Him.  More and more.

This week, the Lord brought to mind how much I need Him every moment.  A hymn came to mind and I decided it would help me build the pillars higher as I battle chaos.  I found this version on YouTube – the author (Sam Robson) seems to have created a number of these moving performances.  It was exactly what I needed to help me enter His presence.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3wSbLa2uGg

  1. Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Psalm 23:5
  3. Isaiah 54:16-17
  4. Luke 22:42

My Part, God’s Part

By | Envision, Headfirst, Personal

A hinge can only function with two engaged and matching halves

There are many theological dynamics to the concept of “My Part / God’s Part” –  after all, if God the Father planned salvation, God the Son accomplished salvation and God the Spirit applied salvation, then my part is simply to receive salvation.  Easy enough?

So once I’m saved – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone – what’s the division of labor between me and God as I step into the good works created beforehand for me to walk in? (see Ephesians 2:8-10.)

I’ve been thinking about this for a very practical reason – trusting God to provide for our family’s financial needs.  That’s something pretty much anyone can relate to, especially right now in the world economy.  For our family, the nuance is that all of our funding comes from God through His people contributing to our ministry.  I have a job, and it doesn’t matter how many hours I work – if people don’t give to the ministry, there’s nothing for me to be paid.  So fundraising becomes a spiritual endeavor, much like evangelism: it’s my part to initiate with people and tell them the news (e.g. God loves them, Christ died and rose again to forgive sin, you can be our partner in bringing the Gospel to those who’ve never heard) and it’s God part to move in their hearts and reveal who responds.  I have no control over who receives Christ, nor over who chooses to join with us and give back to the Lord through our ministry.

Here’s where I recognized a rebuke from the Holy Spirit – I decided that God wasn’t providing adequately for our needs, and I became frustrated and angry with Him.  After all, wasn’t I doing my part?  I’d been inviting people to join us as ministry partners.  So if I was doing my part, and we still had such a significant need – that meant that God wasn’t doing His part.  (My guess is that you can relate to getting frustrated or mad at God for your circumstances.)  After all, Moses raised his staff and the sea parted, right?  Elijah called down fire from heaven and the offering was burned up.  Hey God, in case You hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sitting here and praying and I’d like to see some supernatural action, okay?

The truth is that I wasn’t doing my part.  As my heart was convicted, I asked myself: have you truly done everything in your power or ability?  Or have you only done what you were willing to do, and then blamed God for not responding?  Could He be waiting for you to step out in faith, to go beyond your comfort zone, to truly trust in Him alone for your needs?

So it became much clearer who I should be frustrated and angry with – me.  I haven’t been doing my part.  Once I’ve done everything within my power, everything humanly possible, I can go back and seek Him out and…  give thanks for the ways He has answered and provided.

P.S.  Your equation of “My Part, God’s Part” may not be financial, it may be something else.  I expect that the principle still holds true in your circumstances.

Heartbreaking

By | Headfirst, Personal

It’s hard to express how grieved I am right now, upon returning from Haiti for the 2nd time this month.  While we worked to bring focus to a desperate situation, we encountered spiritual oppression, arrogance, spiritual immaturity, narcissism, division and distrust.  We had to pray constantly and be on guard against forces of confusion and critical spirits.

Praying and striving to stay focused on Christ’s provision for the people of Port-au-Prince and greater Haiti was far more difficult this time around.  In hindsight, I feel foolish to have been caught so off-guard.  Why am I surprised, after writing just last week about God’s light in the darkness being His power shining forth through us as earthen vessels, that the rest of the passage would be just as real? Read More