Pain, suffering, tragedy strikes us all in different ways. The way we deal with these issues is equally different. I recently was teaching our students on letting go of our past mistakes or things that have happened to us and moving forward and living for Him in all areas of our lives. "If you want to start the next chapter, you have to quit rereading the last."
Tonight, I revisited my words and decided to take it to the fire bowl; I printed off notes, emails, screen shots, pictures, emptied out files and deleted computer files; all of which I had held on to as a reminder. As I watched the ashes form in the bowl a friend reminded me of Isaiah 61:3. Though not completely in context, I know that part of healing is letting go of the past. So for me. I say at this moment in my life...those ashes are beautiful.
They are beautiful because they symbolize that God is faithful. In those times of suffering and pain...He is there. In those times I questioned my own calling...He was there. He was there providing me with friends who affirmed my calling. He faithfully provided me a wife who loved and prayed for me and spoke words of affirmation over me. He was there moving in my life and those around me. Though we fear the moment, though we cry ourselves to sleep sometimes, though we take character blows, glares, and scowls...He is there.
A time has now come...tonight in fact...where the Lord spoke so clear to me..."Peter, it's time to move forward." I knew that there was no way for me to move forward while allowing such baggage to remain. Thus, symbolically I created beautiful ashes. Applying the words of the Apostle Paul to my life, 'forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
(remember these are not fully developed thoughts...with a potential and high probability for grammatical errors and non sensical ramblings)
Perhaps I hit this a bit in the previous post but I'll try to be just a tad more specific today. So, how long?
The verse in the image fully says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!" In our culture today it is so easily to compare ourselves, become envious of others accomplishments and activity and all while becoming jealous, wishing God would allow similar to happen in our lives or we are left asking, when will you move in MY life God? Social media has made it so easy for us to see into other's lives in a way as never before. We are able to see where they go on vacation, the new car, the new job, new births, how they celebrated the victory and appear to live lives of endless joy.
So how long? It's hard to say. It's easy to say, until the Lord moves or until He changes your desire for what it is you 'think' your waiting. I know there have been many times in my life that I have been waiting for what I thought I wanted...what I thought was the Lord's will for my life or for a specific situation...what made total sense, in my mind. There have been times when I got tired of waiting and I moved..."jumped the gun".
What often happens in our lives is that we ignore the second part of the verse in Psalm 37:7. "...fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way..." Our world tells us to look at others ways. To compare ourselves with their aparant successes and failures. In your waiting, remember the words of our Lord through David, "be still before the Lord and wait patiently"
Honestly, I don't know. That is all. Good bye. BUT.... here goes an unstudied or tested take on the thought.
Growing up I remember hearing a sermon or lesson of some kind on the answers God gives when we pray. Yes-No-Wait. Ugh. That really doesn't help either. Can you hear the 6 year old or 40 year old me (or you) ....but, but, but but, God....pleezzzzzeeee. Well truth be told, not a whole lot of us are as persistent in our prayers to God the way my son is asking for some Pokémon cards or to go eat ice cream. In One Thessalonians five, Paul tells us to "pray without ceasing...". Pray and keep on praying. With that said, there is no intention that we will be influencing God's mind no matter how great our desire. However, the more time we spend in prayer about a certain subject or in prayer for that matter, we begin to change. Our desires become His desires. Our plans become His plans.
Personally, I have been in a season of 'wait'. In a round about way it appears that the Lord has spoken in my waiting. Was it the answer that my flesh wanted? No. But none the less, an answer. I recently heard a man (who is in the middle of quite a trial) say, "the Lord prepares you, before He uses you." I believe there is so much truth in that statement. We want and we wait, but we can not allow our 'waiting' to be passive.
We only can 'want' what we know or have experienced. This happens from our minuscule perspectives & experiences in life. We 'wait' because we are 'wanting' something else. I think we don't dare to dream enough. We look back and we determine our dreams or wants for our futures or what we 'think' we want, based on what we've seen.
God want's so much more for us than what we can dream up. There have been so many times that I have been the one doing the dreaming; based on what I've seen, heard or experienced.
Why does the Lord tell us to wait? Why do we not get answers in timely measures that we desire? We need to keep perspective. He is the Lord. He is the keeper of time, of will, of breath. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" When was the last time you asked the Lord to release your imagination?
Maybe...just maybe you are focused on what you are waiting on and not what God can do and want's to do through you...remember, it is He who is "able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think..." Pray and ask that your imagination be released for His glory.
the weekend, wait till I can research it a bit...etc" You get the picture. It was not until I gave him a final 'no' and reasons did the persistent asking stop.
The verse in the image above, Psalm 27:14 -"Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." Has spoken volumes to me over the last several months. It is no coincidence that I chose to place the words of this verse in front of a desert landscape. Just as a nine year old boy doesn't like being told to wait, neither does a 40 year old 'kidult' (a term my sons have given me). Wait. I am going to spend some time here expounding on this idea if you want to come back and check it out:: 1. Why does God tell us to wait? 2. How long am I supposed to wait? and 3. I just want an answer.
That pretty lady in the picture to the right ------> yeah, she's with me. I love it! My best friend. I've never had an even close second to the companionship that this Godly woman provides. About two years ago we began to pray about her following a dream and calling that we felt the Lord placing on her (our) life. In 2005, the seeds of a career / ministry of nursing were planted as we worked alongside, interpreting for medical teams in Guatemala. Then while living in Georgia and volunteering in a Crisis Pregnancy Center, the Lord continued to grow this desire.
For the sake of staying brief and not divining into our story too much...tonight I was reminded that being around a person who is passionate about what they are doing is contagious. God uses these people and moments remind me about my personal calling in life. These moments become an accountability check. All of us probably need to be reminding every now and then, why we are doing what we are doing. So often for me this comes in moments of self reflection. Hearing my wife talk about a really good day where she learned a lot, had new experiences, or had an 'ah ha' moment...remind me to check myself (this happened tonight). These moments remind me to examine my passions, making sure my life is staying focused on what matters most. Staying focused on the calling that the Lord has placed on my life and watching for His movement.
So it's been ten months since my last post here. You're probably thinking and by "you're" I'm really talking to myself, cause really...no one is rushing out to read what I'm throwing down. Maybe some day. But for now, this is like my own personal, self published 'aside' moment. Mini glimpses into my mind. Filtered mind that is. Over the years I have learned a few lessons. One of the best coming from Kenny Rogers...yep, "know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em..." you know the rest.
Looking back over my blog...well, honestly, my Inconsistent Random Reflections (IRR), I see a lot of good stuff that I felt was worthy of putting out there. Book worthy, no. Thought provoking, perhaps. But none the less, I will not fool my self and say, "yeah, i'm going to commit to journaling here, every day, at least once a week, once a month..." Not sure I'm ready to block the time and make the commitment to put it out there, exactly how much of a weirdo I really am.
If we have shared worlds (...of course Peter we have shared worlds...remember it's just you and me here....) you know a LOT has happened in the last 11 months. If, by chance, you're randomly here and we haven't shared worlds, well, the past is the past and it will never be rehashed here. I am thankful for having traveled the road the Lord has placed me on with a great group of friends.
Summer is almost here. We have five more 'normal' Wednesday nights for our student ministry. The interns will start in four weeks. Before both of those events happen, I have a conference to attend and a mission trip to NYC, and my wife still has her finals coming. So, is this the best time to TRY and go back to writing...no. Am I going to start trying, yes.
I haven't really seen any movies worth taking about, though The Good Dinosaur really surprised me...oh yeah. I've really gotten into cello music, i've been listening to it while in the office and reading, quite a stretch from Foo Fighters, Switchfoot, and _____?____ (I love AppleMusic).
(yes this post was prepped a while back but not published)
I love Spring. I don't have many allergies, so I am not bothered by all of the pollen and such. What makes Spring so fascinating is the newness, the newness of life. I can not look anywhere and not see the handiwork of God. While driving to one day I noticed the above flowers, and returned to photograph them at different times during the day. I'm sure they have a name. They just appeared on the side of the road all over around the Benton / Bryant area.
As I saw them at different times of the day, I noticed the flower heads were moving with the sun. These flowers reveal their most beauty as they center all they are toward the sun, changing their position all day long. What lessons we can learn from nature!
It is so easy for us to become worried, distracted and burdened by what's going on around us. As a Christ follower it is my obedience to reflect His love at all times. Is it possible to reflect His love without constantly being centered ON His love? If I want the world to see the beauty of Christ...the beauty that I fell in love with and was drawn to, I must remain in a position that allows His love to be viewed and experienced. The Lord is in control...
28“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
Ever ran an official race? I did twice. I did a 5K in Marietta, GA once. Got second place in my division. There were two of us, for what it's worth, I was pushing a jogging stroller. The second race I ran was the Little Rock Half Marathon in 2014. As I trained people kept asking me, what is your pace? I had no clue what they were talking about. That is until race day. My goal was to finish and not walk! Which I did.
As the race began I was in my 'pace corral' (which I later learned was way to fast for me to keep) surrounded by people who appeared to be seasoned and prepared runners. About two miles in reality hit me like a ton of bricks...I was not going to be able to continue this pace. With each pace runner that passed me I would try to keep up, but just couldn't do it. I had exhausted myself too much on the front end.
As I was reflecting on a couple of goals today, the idea of pacing myself came to mind. April 22nd was my previous blog post...two and a half weeks behind my goal. Just as in a race you have to make sure you are keeping up or going at a speed that is sustainable, such is life and the goals we set.
Often times though. We take off at life with similar mindset as I did with my half marathon (i just want to finish and not walk). When we do this, our actions become erratic and unfocused. Pacing ourselves, requires meditation and reflection. Self examination and perspective. Lord help me. Lord lead me. I want you to be my pace leader. May I be able to keep up.
I listened to a fantastic blog post from Desiring God Ministries yesterday (link below). In this short seven minute post, Bruce Hindmarsh shares a lot of incites, reminders and importances of why unplugging, shutting down, and disconnecting is important and healthy for a productive spiritual life, family life and important to relationships in general.
In my personal life, several weeks ago, I started a form of discipline from the influences of social media. I decided that I was allowing ridiculous fB posts, Instagram pics, and tweets to distract me from REAL LIFE (this is another post that I'm working on). I have resolved to not look at any form of social media before noon, which usually even delays this medias influence in my life even longer into the day...sometimes into all day. This personal resolution has been going quite well. When my fingers make those automatic key swipes, I've noticed that I check the time and shut them down if they are not within my parameters.
Be honest with yourself and reflect on the time that you too have been guilty of throwing to the gnomes of social media, never to be reclaimed. When talking with a youth pastor friend about this subject weeks ago, he showed me the file on his iPhone where he stores all his social media app tabs, it's titled "Time Wasters". I too considered renaming my 'social media' folder to 'time wasters' however that's the one thing I want to stay away from...wasting the one of the greatest blessings that God grants, TIME. I have chosen to become much more controlling in my distribution of the 1,440 minutes that I have each day.
iPhone Fasting Podcast
When my oldest son Fisher was born my mother came to Guatemala with a bible for him. It has sat in my study closet, in a box for several years, waiting a good time for us to give it to him. As I was setting goals for the 2015 year and wanting to go through the bible again, I considered how I was going to do this (electronic version, which version, or my favorite go to calf skin and paper) I then remembered his bible. I though, "How great would it be to read through this particular bible and present it to him as a Christmas present this year?" So that's what I am doing. Thus, if you are friends with me on the Bible App and notice huge chunks of scripture being checked off with only minutes in between, it's because I'm using the app as my guide. I am no speed reader.
As I was reading recently in Joshua I was face to face with an example of a man who did not ever quit. A man who pushed through. A man who was faithful. A man who remained healthy and strong. A man who lived relying on the promises of God's faithfulness. Caleb. Joshua 14:10-12, "...And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said." Incase you are not aware, Caleb was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent in to the Promise Land to scout out the land that the Lord had given. Joshua and Caleb were the only two that returned trusting that God would come through on His promise.
Reading Caleb's words makes me excited about growing old as a man who continues faithful living in the shadow and confidence that God will come through on his promise. Caleb had not allowed his confidence to be quenched. Was Caleb like the crazy uncle who thought he could take on anyone in a fight as an 85 year old -just because OR did if he really did retain his physical strength? Either, I don't feel is important to my thought. The Lord had never failed to come through on His promises and Caleb never failed to trust. Caleb never quit. Never quit believing, never quit waiting, never quit trusting, he never quit. He was as ready to keep fighting battles as an old man just as he had in his prime.
This is what I want to be like. I don't have to be the 90 year old, who can still crank out pull ups, step into the octagon, or run a marathon. (Don't get me wrong, it would be pretty sweet to be able to give grandkids and great grandkids a run for their money.) I want to be the 90 year old who never loses sight of God's faithfulness and my part in obedience. I want to run and not grow weary. I want to run the race in a manner as to obtain the prize. I don't want to ever quit. I will never quit.
Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Student Pastor, and Lover of all things Garlic and Bacon.