Worship Through Distractions

Life has its gnats!
I was worshiping my God the other day when the Lord had me stop and sit on a shaded bench. It was a rather warm day where I had begun to perspire. So, I gladly accepted His invitation to continue worshiping while sitting down.
Those tiny water molecules on my skin, however, attracted lots and lots of large gnats and flies! As I was swatting them away, trying to stay focused on listening to the Lord, I heard Him say, “Leave them alone! Can’t you listen and follow Me despite those little distractions?”
“Lord, yes they are little, but they are a big annoyance! The buzzing, the crawling are very distracting.” Then I remembered how often I’ve heard Christians say, “I have to have good music in order to worship God; therefore, I’m heading to the church down the street because their worship is awesome.”
Here’s something to think about. Life is full of gnats and flies buzzing around and landing on us. Yes, worship can include music, but worship is any act of obedience to the Lord even one of sitting on a shaded bench full of gnats.
Jesus was worshiping His Father on the cross…despite the distraction of pain (and probably plenty of flies too!). He took care of His mother. He forgave the soldiers. He saved a criminal. And He fulfilled Scripture all the while responding how the Father wanted through acts of worship.
Life is full of distractions that want to draw our attention away from responding to the Lord. I could choose to focus on Jesus or the gnats. That was my choice at that moment as it is with every moment: I can choose to focus on His voice and follow Him or the distractions. It’s your choice too.

Gut Check

It takes guts to follow Jesus.
In the movie Dunkirk, the Allied coalition’s backs were literally up against the wall – a wall of water called the English Channel. 400,000 soldiers were sitting ducks on the beaches of Dunkirk trying to escape the German onslaught while waiting to board British ships to take them home. Ships that were, however, being sunk at alarming rates.
Because of this, non-military people were enlisted to sail their private boats to rescue the soldiers. One boat captain and his son were chugging along toward Dunkirk when they picked up a surviving soldier of a sunken ship. He asked, upon boarding, where they were headed. Dunkirk was the reply.
The soldier shouted, “If we go back there, we’ll die!” “The captain knew if he didn’t keep going, though, others would. He turned his head and kept chugging onward. He wasn’t a soldier and neither was his son, but they entered the battle to save lives. Because of boat captains like this, the Allied army lived to fight and win the war…another day.
“When Jesus saw the crowds (like those soldiers on the beach), He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless (defenseless from the planes strafing the beach and the torpedo boats sinking ships), like sheep without a shepherd (no one to take them safety home). Then He said to His disciples (the ship captains), ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field (rescue those soldiers!).’” Matthew 9:36-38
Why would Jesus ask us for such a prayer? Apparently He knew there would be war over sharing Jesus, a war to humble ourselves in order to save others! He understood His disciples would struggle to die to self. What will others think of me if I say the politically incorrect statement Jesus made, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He is the only way to life both now and forever. People are not going to like that at all!
Jesus said it, not me, and He’s telling us to ask Him to send workers to bring the hurting, the helpless and those without a shepherd safely home to Him. That’s the easy part. Will you pray this prayer, say at 9:38 AM or PM every day?
And if He asks you to be one of those harvesters, will you go? All you have to do is share what Jesus has done in and for you and harvest those He’s made ready. This, however, will take the same guts (faith) as the boat captain sailing toward the dangerous beaches of Dunkirk. This will be my prayer for you and me, “Lord send us into Your harvest fields!”

Standing Together

You’re now part of the collective.
There is a sacrifice that covered a leader’s, an individual’s and a community’s sin. When someone violated God’s word unknowingly and when it was made known, they needed to take care of it through a sacrifice called the sin offering.
I find it interesting that a community can sin, not just an individual. Each person must make their own choice to believe in, love and then follow Jesus. Yet, at that point of belief, we’re placed into a group that is expected and needs to walk with Jesus as a group. Doubt it? Look up all the one-another clauses in the New Testament! You can’t do a one another on your own. No, we do them as a church – a group of people called by Jesus toward Jesus.
In America, we hold to a principle of “rugged individualism” that teaches it’s up to each individual to solve their problems and make it on their own, without outside help. This cultural idea has infected the American church. We’ve made our walks with Jesus all about us – our needs, our wants, our dreams and then make our choices.
And yet, we fail to realize that we’re part of a group where individual choices do indeed affect others – positively or negatively. Let’s stop letting the culture infect us. Rather let’s start infecting the culture with Jesus. My friends, there will be a time when you’re really going to need another believer walking with you. Start walking with them now.

Standing with Jesus

Life is not about being right, but about becoming like Jesus.
Is your faith strong enough to take a stand for loving Jesus, even if it might cost your job? In over 2/3’s of the world’s countries, Christians are the number one group on the persecution hit list. This wave has hit US shores and could come to a location near you sooner than you realize.
The only way we can take a stand for Jesus when life is tough is to practice taking a stand when it’s easier. It’s our daily choices today that build our faith muscles for tomorrow. It’s our small decisions to listen and follow Jesus that not only brings peace right now, but it will keep us in peace, though not necessarily safety, later as well.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12 that a blessing, a sense of peace and joy comes from being persecuted for Him. It’s a persecution not based on being right, but for being like Jesus. And what should we expect for ourselves if Jesus was persecuted for being Jesus?
Keep practicing the FREEdom process. Yes, you might fall; but don’t give up! Do what Jesus recently told me, “Keep following Me and getting up.” (see Psalm 107) As you become like Jesus, you will take a stand with Jesus because He’s already standing.

Daily Practicing the Fundamentals

Slow down when you move too fast.
My favorite baseball team is currently setting historic winning records. Yet despite all this winning, the team’s manager threw out what seemed to be a classic cliché as to why they were winning, “It all comes down to fundamentals.”
For this team, though, it wasn’t a cliché, but a daily action step. A player who was interviewed said, “Other teams I’ve played for have like nine-tenths of everything covered. There’s just so much more emphasis on this team on that last little piece.” After the interview, he went off to practice drills that most teams stop doing once they leave spring training.
This team learned what believers must learn. It’s the little “no big deal” compromises of today that bite you tomorrow. You stop doing what you got you free from and experiencing victory over your drug of choice, a repeated sinful habit; and, you will eventually lose or start doing it again.
The information you feed your brain leads to your choices. If you’re telling your brain it’s no biggie today, it will eventually believe it’s no biggie tomorrow when faced with an even bigger choice – the choice to lose or go backward.
When life seems like a blur, slow down. Examine your thinking over the past few weeks and months. Ask, “Do my thoughts line up with the truth of God’s Word?” If not, you’ve probably stopped practicing the biblical life-change fundamentals – the FREEdom process.
Keep making the little choices Jesus’ way through the FREEdom process and you’ll keep going forward and experiencing victory/freedom in Christ.