The Lone Surfer

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:116‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.”
My husband and I were in San Diego last week. Your thinking, oh, that sounds great – sun, sand, the ocean. Well, let me tell you. It was great. But the ocean was vicious. It was very windy for a good portion of the visit which made the ocean very “angry”. It churned and crashed like it was nobody’s business. 

Yet on one day when the waves were particularly high and the wind was whipping, my husband and I went for a stroll along some cliffs – just to take it all in. As we were staring at the ocean in awe, we saw a little dark figure paddling out further and further. This person had quite the challenge on their hands – battling the waves. It was a surfer who was bound and determined to catch some waves. He paddled. He ducked under waves. He fought against the current. And he watched. He watched diligently. He was looking for just the right opportunity to enjoy the surf for a few moments. And he did. It was marvelous watching him sail across the waves that would have sent terror into my heart. He rode the waves with grace and beauty. 

As we continued on our little hike, we came back to watch him once more. And upon further inspection, we realized this guy wasn’t young. He wasn’t some “crazy young fella”, nope, this was an older man! We were shocked and amazed!

So, what does this have to do with the Bible, you might ask. 

Passion. This older man out surfing the waves of California on a brisk and windy day had passion. He loved surfing – he had to to be out there in those conditions. He didn’t let fear keep him out of the water. He was not ashamed of the hope that he had that he could surf those waves. He knew he could do it if he only tried. He was passionate about surfing. 

Passion is something that drives us. It keeps us going through the toughest of circumstances. It gives us hope and opportunity. Passion is what seperates the casual from the dedicated.

But here is the question – what are you passionate about? 

Is it work? Is it your children? Is it yourself? Is it serving God?

How many of us could truly say that we are passionate about God? I would venture to say that would be a sadly small number. I know in my own life learning about God and serving Him is very, very important. But passionate? I’m not so sure. And that’s not as it should be. 

So, based on this verse, what does that mean? Am I ashamed of my hope? Goodness, I don’t want that to be the case!

Speaking for myself, I need to be more passionate about serving and learning about God. I need to decide that I am going to face adversity and problems in my life with the dedication of this surfer that I talked about here. I need to wait more upon Him. I need to look for opportunities to serve Him. I need to not be afraid to do something that no one else is doing. I need to be passionate.

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Breaking through

Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”‭‭

It has been a while. Sorry. I have had some things on my mind – things that have been a bit troubling and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. 

I had some time this last week to think on them and pray about them. And here is what I determined – the devil is trying to keep me from doing what I know that God would have me to do.

We get like that from time to time, don’t we? We are plugging along, doing what we think and feel that God wants us to do, and then we hit some sort of invisible wall that all of the sudden this thing that you have been doing just doesn’t seem doable anymore. You start coming up with excuses and find reasons not to fulfill what you know that God wants you to do. Things begin to happen that make you question your reason, your purpose and your safety in completing what you know that God has laid on your heart to do. 

It happens to everyone – the pastor, the missionary, the teacher, the casual blogger. You have to find a way to break through. 

This last week, my husband was at a conference that I was blessed to be able to attend with him. There were several motivational speakers there that he heard. On the last day, he was asked to be a part of one of the seminars as a helper. Well, I had to see what this “helper” was going to help with – it was breaking a board with one’s hand. Sounds very ninja-like, right? Well, I saw people of all ages, sizes and abilities breaking an untampered board with their bear hand. The whole purpose of the activity was to write what it was that was holding you back from moving forward in your life on this board and then break through it – metaphorically and literally. 

We all need to break through something. Often times, that thing is fear. It is fear of failure, fear of starting, fear of change and sometimes, just plain old, flat out fear. It permeates us from time to time. It holds us back. It keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us from the blessings of God. Fear is one of the great tools of the devil. He uses it to control us, to keep us from serving God in such a way that could change the world. And we let him use that tool. We choose to see fear as something that protects us from the bad we perceive. Truth be told, that “bad” isn’t really “bad” at all. We should, instead, chose to see it as a challenge that forces us to move in a different direction. God put it there for a reason.

So this week, what is holding you back? What do you need to break through? What is it that is hindering your blessings from God? What is keeping you from serving Him like you know He is calling you to do? Together, let’s break through this thing!

“Walk Worthy”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
It has been a while, yes, I know. Things have been a bit crazy at my house. I’m trying to get accustomed to reading through the Bible in a year. Some days have really long chapters that don’t leave me much time to write. I’ll get it figured out though. Just might take a while. 

Let me tell you about some challenges that my family has faced in our walk lately.

Saturday, my daughter had a cheer competition. The team did very, very well – they weren’t perfect or spot on, but very good. Their routine had a high level of difficulty and they executed it fairly well. They received 3rd place with this presentation. Now, that is good, right? Third out of 5 is not too bad. The problem is that the team that won had a much less difficult routine than our girls. And the team that got second didn’t even have a cheer in their routine for a cheerleading competition. Now, walking “worthy of God” in this situation was tough. My daughter felt cheated. She felt betrayed by the judges who were seemingly not looking for the team to challenge themselves. She cried a lot. And at the end of the night, my husband and I declared them champions regardless of what the judges said. But she still kept crying. Then comes the talk. “It’s okay to be sad. You have tonight to be sad. But when tomorrow comes and you wake up, the time has come to move on. You can’t dwell on this and let the devil has his heyday.” And you know what? The next morning my daughter woke up puffy eyed and ready to face the day with a whole new attitude. I am stilll trying to walk “worthy of God” in this situation. It is hard to watch your children go through this kind of thing and lead them in the path of righteousness.

 Yesterday, we sent my son off on his first missions trip – to Haiti. Now, I am super excited for him. I am not worried about him at all. I am so very excited to see what God is going to do in his life. This challenge in our walk comes from not being with him on this journey. We can’t really communicate with him, except via his friend with an international plan. But I don’t need to talk to him everyday to know that God loves and cares for him more than I ever could. I know that God sees him. God knows my heart. He hears my prayers on his behalf. 

So, as you can see, things have been a bit hairy around my house – I’m sure that it is the same way around yours. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to do anything other than “walk worthy”. It is a call to do so through the tough times in life as well as through the less challenging times of life. It is a call to live with God. It is a call to walk with God. Today, as you face your Wednesday and all the fun it holds, “walk worthy” and walk with God. It makes the journey to Heaven that much sweeter.

Inside the Box

Numbers 7:89 – “And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.”

Last night, we were in Bible study at church. Our teen group is not yet meeting. We are on break in between semesters. Our preacher has been giving a study into the Tabernacle and the items found inside. Last night, he was looking at the Ark of the Covenant. 

I’ve been thinking about it last night and this morning. 

Let me give you what I have been thinking about so far. There were items inside the Ark – the staff of Aaron that budded, the Golden Bowl of Manna and the Ten Commandment Tablets. Each of these items had a specific reason why they were preserved inside the Ark. They were for rememberance and as symbols to represent the Savior to come. These reasons are very important. Yet, as the saying goes, they were out of sight and easily out of mind. You see, in my mind, there were times that the children of Israel forgot where God really is – everywhere. 

It is easy to put God in a box. We keep Him tucked away in case of an emergency or crisis or something like that. We don’t appreciate the fact that He will sit right beside you, if you ask Him to. We neglect to remember that He isn’t just in the church house. Rather, He is in our every moment. Just like the children of Israel had all these reminders hidden away in an Ark, we have all these reminders in our very line of sight and especially in our Bible. God has preserved and kept His Word all these thousands of years for a reason – to remind us. Just like He preserved and kept those reminders in the Ark, He keeps His Word, the Bible. 

Now, the children of Israel couldn’t just open up the Ark and look inside to get those reminders. We can. We can open our Bible any time we want and expose ourself to God any time we choose. But do we choose to?

Moses met God at the Mercy Seat. You see, He was there all along. He was out there and among them. They just neglected that memory. Moses had real experiences with God. He spoke with Him. He listened to Him. All of this via the Mercy Seat. 

And you know what? He is still on the Mercy Seat. It has just been relocated to Heaven. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, He went to the right hand of the Father. Just like Moses talked with God at the Mercy Seat, we can talk with Jesus Christ who is on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. 

You know, the great thing about the Bible is that it all works together. The Old Testament helps explain the New Testament. We can look at promises and prophecies made in the Old Testament and see them fulfilled in the New Testament. Yet no matter where you start, all of it points to Jesus Christ. He is the reason for it all. He is the main event. He is the Savior of the world. Without Him, it’s all just a bunch of stories. But I don’t know how you can even begin looking into the Word of God and not see Jesus Christ. I see Him in the Garden, in the Flood, in the Exodus, in the Law, in the Judges, in the Psalms, in the prophecies and so on and so on. He is everywhere you care to look. And all the promises, all the prophecies, they all point to one thing – the salvation and return of Jesus Christ.  

It really is beautiful. I would encourage you today to step into the Word and go on the adventure of a lifetime – no, of an eternity. 

A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.

Learning

Proverbs 2:10-17 – “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.”

I was spending some time with my nephew last night. We were learning about animals and their habits and behaviors. One fact that we learned was that a wildebeast typically have their babies at night. The babies are expected to be able to run 15 minutes after they are born. If they can’t run, the mother leaves them behind. My nephew loves animals and all sorts of facts. He is like a little sponge. He looked up at me after hearing this and said, “Aunt Melissa, there are some facts that I don’t like to know. That makes me sad.”

They say “Knowledge is power.” And in some ways, I guess they are correct. Knowledge helps you to understand the world around you. It can guide you and show the path of righteousness, if you look for it. It can show you what people truly desire. It can help you to identify when someone is trying to lead you away from what you know to be right. 

When accompanied by the Holy Spirit, knowledge can help you see your need for a Savior. 

But sometimes, we pick up the wrong kind of knowledge. We gather and allow the “wisdom of the world” to penetrate our hearts and minds. That knowledge leads us away from the path of righteousness. It tries to take away the truth. 

We need to know and understand this fact – there are two kinds of knowledge and two ways to use them. The Knowledge of God will bring peace and understanding. The knowledge of the world with bring anxiety and confusion. 

The only way that we can absorb the Knowledge of God is to get into His word. It requires us to learn about God, to know His statutes and commands and to walk with Him daily. It means that sometimes we are going to learn really tough lessons. We are going to hear things that make us sad because we are convicted by the Holy Spirit to change. We are going to read about consequences of not choosing God and will learn that Hell is a real place filled with real people who made a real decision. 

Learning is tough stuff. It requires discipline, attention and continuity. It’s not something that you casually do from time to time. It needs to be something you work at every day. Just like a diet won’t work if you follow it one to two times a week, being a student of Christ requires diligence. It is a daily task that you choose to complete each and every day. 

Am I diligent? Nope. Am I proud of that? Nope. Do I want to do better? Yep. I think this is an area that everyone could stand a booster shot in from time to time. The new year is just around the corner. I am already planning how I am going to make next year a more educational year than this year. How about you? What are you going to do next year that will draw you closer to Christ? 

Learning should be a lifelong activity. What will you do to learn more of Him today?

Making Assumptions

Matthew 1:1-6a – “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas (Judah) and his brethren; And Judas (Judah) begat Phares (Pharez) and Zara of Thamar (Tamar); and Phares (Pharez) begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz (Boaz) of Rachab (Rahab); and Booz (Boaz) begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king…”

(Note: The names that are in parenthesis are the names found elsewhere in the Bible spelled differently. I didn’t want any confusion.)

I was reading in Genesis 38 today about Judah and Tamar. Judah had lost his two sons and his wife. He was sad. He had no grandchildren because two of his sons had died before having children. He had promised his daughter-in-law, Tamar, that she could marry his other son when he came of age. However, for whatever reason, that hadn’t happened yet when he saw Tamar on the side of the road and thought she was a harlot. 

Now, Tamar was dressed like a harlot when she is supposed to be waiting for the son to grow up. But you need to remember, dressing like a harlot in this time meant she had her head covered. Judah didn’t know it was his daughter-in-law. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Judah slept with someone who wasn’t his wife. 

Yet, God used this situation and onto the scene comes Pharez.

What I want to emphasize here is judging others. When you look at the shortened version of the lineage of Christ that I have posted here, you see Tamar and Rahab and Ruth. These three women each displayed different character traits but they all had this in common – they were outsiders. They were different. They each married a man from the tribe of Judah. But Tamar was a Canaanite woman. Rahab was a harlot living in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite woman. None of these women were in a favorable situation. Tamar got pregnant by her father-in-law. Rahab, well, we don’t know how or why she became a harlot but that is how the Bible describes her. Ruth was childless and seemingly doomed to widowhood and living with her mother-in-law in a foreign country. Yet God used each woman in each situation to bring about His will.

We see people all the time at the stoplight, in the store and even at church. And we automatically make an assumption about them. We judge their clothing, their manorism, their speech and many other details about them. I know that I do it without even thinking about it. But that is wrong. I should not judge. 

I know that in my own life and situation, I don’t want people to look at me and judge me by what they see on the outside. I want people to know me. I want them to see God’s hand at work in my life. And you can’t necessarily see that from the outside all the time. 

I want to encourage you, and myself, not to make assumptions about people. I want us to be more open to what God can and will do in someone’s life. No one in Jericho would have ever guessed that Rahab would one day bear a child that would be found in the lineage of the Savior of the world. Tamar never would have thought that this child she was bearing through this circumstance would be in the lineage of the King. And Ruth probably never dreamed that her great-grandson would be the king of Israel. You see, we never know how God is going to work in our life or in the lives of the people around us.