Easy Does It!

For many very good reasons those are definitely the wisest words spoken around me in the last couple of weeks.  Recently, after a very long hiatus I’ve returned to the world of physical work. I’m slowly becoming adjusted to my new routine, getting lots of healthy exercise, working with people I enjoy, and spending all day outside usually in the woods! It’s every bit as much fun as it sounds, but the combination of having turned fifty last month and my being so very out of shape (round is a shape isn’t it?) has made it a real challenge. Let me tell you, after you’ve pushed yourself pretty hard it’s an incredible feeling just to lay back on the grass and stare up at the crystal clear blue sky. Feeling your blood coursing through your veins and the blessed peace that even momentary relief brings. Marking time by the thunderous rhythm of your own heart beats against the easy swaying of the tree tops.

Overheated~ pulsating… ecstatic!

At this point in my life, it’s out of necessity I must be smarter about how I go about things. I’m no longer able to simply go to the well of my physical strength as before. This emerging strategy consists mostly of practicing patience, persistence, and planning, but more importantly it’s about using the power that’s available to me most effectively. That involves developing the skill and judgment nessesary to use a machine to it’s full potential without pushing it to the point that it’s going to break or in a way it wasn’t designed to be used. Understanding that it, the machine, will take a great deal of hard use but very little if any ab-use.  So while it’s true that my strength isn’t what it once was and my energy is now much more precious, none of those realities change the fact that the job is about moving heavy objects from one place to another, and so the relationship I have with my “power” equipment is extremely vital to me!

The power of a machine like this makes the impossible possible. It pulls whole trees out of the thickest brush you can imagine using a wench and a cable and “skids” them to a landing.

This is called a “picker truck” it’s the helping hand that lifts the extremely heavy loads onto the log truck like they were toothpicks!

And of course the real workhorse of our operation, the log truck! We do a humanly impossible task by using the awesome power that’s available to us through these tools.

Life can also be a “mission impossible”

How common it seems to be nowadays for people to feel overwhelmed by all of the heavy burdens they’re dragging around or trying to carry on their shoulders. All of us can relate personally or have known those who were crushed by the weight of their problems, by the pile of logs that are on top of them! Many people mistakenly believe that they’re stuck in their situations, pinned down by the tangled mess their living in and are frustrated by it’s complex nature. Sadly, their lives have become a hopeless, joyless, depressing drudgery with seemingly no meaning to all of the hardship and struggles that they endure daily.

And that’s no way to live!

This description also fits many Christian people who would eagerly to tell you about Jesus and his great love for us all!  Who have trusted Christ for their eternal salvation and yet somehow they’re challenged to trust Him with their present circumstances! I wonder if they believe that He’s a far away God who is perhaps indifferent to their troubles or that what goes on here in this life is theirs to deal with alone. I don’t think that’s right, this sounds much easier to me!

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Matthew 11:30

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Years ago my high school biology teacher told us that he had previously taught chemistry for many years all the while believing that he understood it until one day as he was drawing a formula on the board in a sudden realization he actually “got it” himself. He thought he understood it but his understanding was only on a superficial level. I’m sure he had  passed many tests over it to graduate and no doubt felt comfortable teaching it to others. In his head it seemed to be a settled issue, but in his heart it was a different matter. He didn’t really understand it, not on that level, there was a vital connection missing, an “app” as they call it today that turned it from being just a bunch of abstract theories into a simple life changing reality!

As Christians I think we all need to have a similar “light bulb” moment! One way to do that is to walk by faith in our own lives until we come to a much clearer understanding of what is the true reality of the spiritual world and the false illusion of the physical one.

1 Corinthians 2:6

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

If only we could comprehend much more of  God’s love for us, think of the difference it would make in our lives, that we could make in this world! we could live our lives in victory and love would flow out of us like living waters!

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

John 7:38

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Christs supreme act of love and redemption that was done for all men on the cross defeated sin’s power over us and ultimately death on our behalf. It made the impossible possible, and through the power of His blood Jesus still empowers believers to rise above all of the weapons that are formed against them in life.

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Easy does it!

We have a tremendous tool that we don’t use nearly enough! It has the power to pull us out of the miry clay we’re stuck in and out of the worst thorns and thickets we could ever hope to find ourselves. It can lift all of those heavy burdens we’re carrying around ourselves, put them on a truck, and deliver you from the need to ever fear them again! What is it?

PRAYER!

Romans 12:12

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

1 John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

It’s as easy as just loving God,

Loving our brothers and sisters by sharing Christ’s love which was given to us freely

And finally, it’s as easy as loving yourself and KNOWING that God loves YOU!

There’s nothing confusing or complicated about it. All we have to do is LOVE.

That’s always been Gods intention towards us, I don’t understand why we all don’t get it !

Or why if we say we do, we don’t act with the authority it conveys to us over all areas of our lives

Someday, a simple little man is going to read Gods word and just believe it…

And the rest of us are going to be really embarrassed when he looks at us and says,

It’s easy when you just let God do it!

Matthew 6:13

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Don’t Look Down!

Have you ever, in the middle of a project or whatever, looked around and suddenly realized that what you were doing was something that others might not understand or that they may see as being a little bit “out there” ? In the following picture and verse’s  Peter is literally “out there”!

Matthew 14:28-31

28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Jesus responded to Peter’s request, He told him to “Come!” and that was enough for Peter to get out of the boat and begin walking on water towards Him. But because of Peter’s inability to remain focused on Jesus, he allowed his doubt’s to bring him down. Anytime we step out of our own “personal boat” or out of our comfort zone, we can expect to be bombarded by our fear’s.  I can only imagine how Peter might of felt, maybe he stepped out of the boat and was blown sideways by the wind.  Perhaps he had been looking for a way to distinguish himself from the other disciples in Jesus’ eye’s but was unprepared for the “adversity” he encountered. Peter had no way of anticipating or fully understanding what would be required of him or how difficult it would be to overcome his fears and die to his doubts.

From the moment anyone is born again or “born to the Spirit” a process is begun. A work referred to as sanctification; which is to be set apart, to be changed from what it is we start out as into what we are to become in Christ. To mature and grow spiritually, It’s forward progress moves in lockstep with our willingness and our ability to disregard the stifling worldly doubts and fears we all have and instead walk in faith.

In the past week as I’ve been going about the work of the Outreach Center; I was compelled to study what Gods word tells us about the life of Peter. Many of the stories of Peter in the gospels have to do with his spiritual immaturity or with his humanity; it was Peter who had the audacity to rebuke Jesus and who was in return rebuked by Him so sternly,

“Get behind Me Satan!” (OUCH!)

Of all the awkward moments that Peter experienced, the one that was most life changing occurred immediately after he had denied Christ for the third time, when that rooster crowed and his eye’s met Jesus’ It was then that he understood the extent of his own pretenses.  There that he found the courage to contrast the superficiality or “half measures” of his own efforts to the full measure of devotion he had witnessed in Christ. In that instant he was struck full on by what it means to love.  In his moment of clarity he comes to a full understanding of his own brokenness, of his own wretchedness, and of his own hopeless state.

Matthew 22:61-62

61And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

62And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter truly came to understand what it means to be humbled before the Lord in a way that few if any today can claim to share. And while that surely was a profoundly painful experience for him it  served a great purpose. Peter wouldn’t see Jesus again until three days later when He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and although it had only been three days I believe Peter had matured considerably as a result of what he had been through. Then, on the shore of the sea of Tiberius, Peter, ever the zealous disciple jumped out of the boat and swam to Christ who was waiting on the shore where they shared a meal and afterward Jesus gives Peter the “third degree”.

Matthew 21:17

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

In my estimation, this conversation between Jesus and Peter is a final exam of sorts. Peter hasn’t merely learned to love, it’s become as essential and natural to him as it is for him to breath! Jesus’ final instruction for Peter to “Feed My Sheep” is a critical further illustration of the cause and effect relationship which should result from that love.

This was our first week of being open at the Outreach Center, at times I’ve had to deal with my own doubts about the rationality of what I’m doing, or with my own sensitivities as to what I’m trying to do being perceived by some as being “out there”. Like Peter, I’m in the process of growth, of dealing with various things. There’s my pride issues and my fear of asking people for help because of their possible rejection, and my tendency to take that too personally. That’s a lot of stuff to deal with and there’s no quick fix here, but I’ve found that it’s much easier to consume it if you break it down into smaller pieces; day by day I put one foot in front of the other and just move in the direction God has given me grace to go. Like other things in my life that I’ve had to overcome, my success has been a product of  my ability to look my fears in the eyes, and so based on that I must remember,

“Don’t look Down!”