Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sea of Life

Things seem to be changing all around me these days.  We have a new administrator in the office (which I am thankful for), we have a Lead Pastor who is moving on to a new church as of tomorrow, the ministries I work with are all morphing into new layouts, there will be an interim pastor coming, eventually there will be a new lead pastor and then add an the changes of my personal life, it all makes for some interesting moments.

Sometimes each moment by itself can be extremely exciting and other times it can seem very stressful or overwhelming.  Place them all together (as usually circumstances never happen independently of one another) and it can be either a euphoric dream or an intimidating death sentence.  We are never quite sure what we are going to get from moment to moment.  We can be living in the excitement of life and within minutes watch as the world begins to crash around us and attempts to swallow us up. 

I sometimes wonder how Moses felt standing at the Red Sea with the freshly released people of Israel.  Here he is with Pharaoh's army in hot pursuit behind them and a bunch of squabbling babies crying about how they would rather be slaves in Egypt then die out in the dessert.  And what does God say to him?
"Why do you cry to Me?  Tell the children of Israel to go forward." (Exodus 14:15)
I think sometimes I spend more time crying to God about the seemingly impassable situations of life then I do in trusting Him that He is leading me and encouraging me to move forward.  I look at the big sea of life in front of me and the hurts of the past behind me and I think that it would have been better to be a slave to my past then to think that I have a future ahead of me that is full of promise and hope.  I forget that God is in control.

I don't know what everyone else is facing.  I just know that the same God that told Joshua, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9), is the same God that is with you today.

As I face the adversities of this life, I choose to be strong; full of courage; without fear; possessing a quiet confidence, that will carry me through the changes into the promise that God has given me.  I don't know what my future holds, but I know Who holds the future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Colourful Blessings

As we head through the fall season it is really beautiful to see the changes happening to nature.  All the colourful trees are glowing red, orange and yellow.  The leaves are blanketing the ground like a handmade quilt from your grandmother.  And yet our busy lives continue to press on all around us.

How many times do we slow down to enjoy the changes of the seasons?  Do we really stop to take a look at the beauty of what is happening or do we just press on and miss the colourful display of life that is bursting all around us?

On my own personal journey, it has been really interesting to see through the changes how God has been grabbing my attention to the little things happening around me.  He has been blessing me with his goodness and I am truly thankful for what He is doing.  However, I have to wonder how many more blessings that have passed unappreciated because I have been so goal oriented on this adventure.

It pays to slow down and appreciate the things that you have because tomorrow you may need that reminder to help you make it through a difficult day.  We use to sing a song back when I was growing up, "Count Your Blessings", where we were reminded to "name them one by one".  Today, if you're going through a difficult time, take a minute to stop and count your blessings because you just might be surprised how good your life really is.

So as I get ready to head home, I am going to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons and remember that as things in life transform, God is in control and He is blessing me every day with another colourful blessing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Big and Good Expectations

Have you ever been waiting for something, whether in the mail or from someone, and when it finally arrived it wasn't what you thought it was going to be?  Did you feel like your expectations had been let down?  The other side of that, have you ever received something and it was better than what you had thought?  How did you feel about that?

I recently received (at a nominal charge) the new BlackBerry Torch from my wireless provider.  I remember when I first saw an advertisement for this cell phone how I thought to myself, nice ... but is it as really as good as these people were claiming?  So I read the reviews and did some homework on this little device and they all seemed pretty positive.  I decided to upgrade my phone (thanks to the unmentioned wireless provider) and the wait began.  I have to admit, I felt a bit like a kid at Christmas (by the way, there are only 70 days until that wonderful day arrives in case you're wondering) and the anticipation of something new was quite exhilarating. I even made the mistake of ordering the phone on the Thursday of a long weekend so it didn't wind up arriving until Tuesday.  Hey ... I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

So I have my new phone.  I have to say (shameless plug for the BlackBerry Torch) that I am extremely impressed with this new phone.  It has met and exceeded my expectations however, it is just a phone.

I've been personally challenged lately in my personal walk with God about my expectations.  There have been a couple of things on my heart when it comes to this:
1. That there would be a sense of excitement when I think about what God desires to offer me and
2. That there would be a great expectancy of what God is going to do.

I want to go back to my Christmas analogy from earlier.  How many times do we lose the excitement of serving God?  How many times do we find ourselves in dry spells of life where we are left wondering what happened to the excitement of a loving God?  In the book of Lamentations, we are reminded in verses 3:22-24 that "God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.  They're created new every morning.  How great your faithfulness!  I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."(The Message).  Our relationship with Christ should not be stale.  We should have a daily refreshing of God's mercy EVERY DAY!  That is like getting a Christmas present every morning!  How can that be boring?  How can that be stale?  There is excitement in our relationship with God!  If we are not excited in our Christian walk, are we really walking like a Christian?

I believe the other part of our excitement is directly related to our expectancy.  Think of it this way, at Christmas we have this expectancy of receiving good gifts.  When Christmas comes and we open the gifts, we either have great joy or the opportunity to re-gift.  But with God, there is never a bad gift that comes from God.  James says, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."(James 1:16-17).  We need to expect good gifts from our Heavenly Father who loves us.

But we also need to get a grasp on increasing our expectancy for God's moving in our lives.  In Ephesians, Paul states "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  Think about that for a second ... "who is able" ... Do you know that God is able?  Do you know that God has the ability to meet your need?  But it is not just partly meeting, it is "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine".

But are we only believing/asking for a partly or are we believing/asking for a complete request?  What are you believing God for today?  Are you believing for a healing in your body?  Are you believing for a loved one who is not following Christ to find relationship with God?  Are you believing for debt to be cancelled?  Are you believing for a job or promotion?  Are you believing for a restored relationship?  In any or all of those questions, are you believing for God "who is able to do immeasurably more than all [you] ask or imagine' to fully meet those requests?

So as I enjoy my phone as cool as it is, the novelty will soon wear off.  However, God blows my mind away every day with His goodness and mercy!  That is exciting and I wait with the biggest bucket that I can find for all that my God is going to do!  That's the best gift ever!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thanks ...

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every day you are somehow reminded of a common theme?  This week has been one of those weeks for me.  It seems that every day there has been a simple message getting bounced back at me.

This week started off with a blog where I was having a "bad" day which turned out to be a good day.  However, part way through that day, I was reminded of all the things that I could (and should) be thankful for in my life.  It was one of those humbling moments where I was reminded that life really isn't that "bad".

All throughout this week, I have been getting gentle reminders to be thankful for the life that I live and the things that I have.  This morning, I was gently reminded with not one, but two devotionals on thanks.  To top it off, staff meeting this morning had a thanksgiving tone too it as well.  I even had someone cut me off where I had to say, "Thanks buddy!"  (Okay ... that last one might not have been the right example.)  As I began to write this little blog, I all of a sudden remembered that this weekend was Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) and that is just one more reminder to be thankful for the things that I have.  Everywhere that I turn, there is a message to be thankful.

I am truly grateful for the way that God has been blessing my life.  I don't need to list them all on here, but for those that know me, they know that my life has done a complete 180 degree turn around and that God has been blessing me abundantly.  It hasn't always been an easy road, but things are looking up.

Today, I choose to be thankful but I also want to encourage others to be thankful as well.  No matter what you are going through, remember to give thanks for things that you have and the life that you live.  The bible says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I'm not sure if there will be more reminders this week, but I think I have got enough of them that I get the point.  So for everyone that makes my life better and to a God that continually blows me away ...


Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Starbucks Kind of Day

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to crawl in a hole and hide?  Do you know, the kind of day where it seems like everything that you thought was going to be awesome, just kind of falls apart and leaves you with the feeling of disappointment or failure?

Today has been one of those days where it just hasn't gone as planned.  Things that I had planned have fallen apart and as I look back over the events of the day, I sit and ask myself, "what went wrong"?  What could have I done differently today to make this day better?

The truth is, there was really nothing that could have been done to make this day work the way that I wanted it to, but yet I have the choice to have this day finish on a positive or a negative.  I have the choice to either have a positive outlook on how this day has been or a negative outlook on how this day has been.  Reflecting on the day, it really hasn't been as bad as I had originally thought.  Let me explain.

Today, I wasn't sick.  Today, I wasn't hungry.  Today, I wasn't in desperate need.  So given just those three things alone, today was a good day.  So I have lots to be thankful for today.  The fact that I have family and friends that love me is enough to make today a good day.  The fact that I am able to witness a beautiful sunset makes today a good day.  The fact that I am able to share my thoughts freely makes today a good day.

So today I choose to have a positive attitude about the the way my life is and I sit back and enjoy.  Attached is a song that a friend shared with me that just reminds me that each day is an ordinary miracle. 

Sarah McLachlan - Ordinary Miracle

*grabs his Starbucks and relishes the day*