Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Getting a Conversation Started in the Storm

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33)

The story of Peter walking on water as recorded Matthew 14:22-33 was the focus of this weekend’s message.  As I spent some time reflecting upon this passage, a number of personal storylines popped up for my application. 

It’s a story of faith. 
In the midst of the storms of life, I can trust Him and take the step of faith. 

It’s a story of revelation.
In the mist of the storms of life, I need to look around and anticipate seeing Jesus…seeing Him in a new way.

It’s a story of worship.
In the mist of the storms of life, Jesus provides us the opportunity to engage Him, to worship Him.

I do think for these stories to be written into my personal plots of fear, something must be done before taking the risk and stepping out onto the choppy and stormy water.    Before Peter stepped into the water, He and Jesus engaged in a dialogue--a back and forth conversation.

As I am in my boat of fear, surround by the storm of anxiety and uncertainty, I want to engage Jesus in conversation.

Jesus, are You here? 
Where are You?
What do I need to declare about You?
What promises do I need to remember?
What do you want me to learn about my world or myself?
How are you going to reveal Yourself in this storm? 
How will Your glory be revealed?
What’s the step of faith you are calling me to take?
How can I worship You in this situation?

I believe in His answers I will…
·      Discover Him in the midst of the storm
·      Come to understand my step of faith

·      Experience my moment of fear being transformed into an opportunity for worship

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reading the Word Daily

I’d like to recommend the Bible Gateway Bible reading plan.  Here’s what I like about it.

  • I get to choose from a variety of reading plans.
  • I can read it from my iPhone or similar device.
  • Everyone morning at 5 am it emails me my reading for the day.
  • It keeps track of what I have completed.

The reading plans they offer are…

Old/New Testament
Each day includes a passage from both the Old Testament and New Testament.

Read the Bible in the chronological order in which its stories and events occurred.

Read the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.

Read the books of the Bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.

Bible in 90 Days
An intensive Bible reading plan that walks through the entire Bible in 90 days.

Read the Gospels in 40 Days
Read through the four Gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--in 40 days.

New Testament in a Year
Read the New Testament from start to finish, from Matthew to Revelation.

The Daily Audio Bible
This reading plan is provided by Brian Hardin from Daily Audio Bible.

Book of Common Prayer
Daily Old and New Testament readings based on the Book of Common Prayer.

Readings for Lent and Easter
Short readings from throughout the Bible that focus on the meaning and events of Easter.

Daily Reading for Personal Growth, 40 Days with God
40 daily Scripture readings that illustrate the character of God and the nature of faith.

Readings for Celebrating Advent
Scripture passages that focus on the meaning of Advent and Christmas.

Read the New Testament in 24 Weeks
A reading plan that walks through the entire New Testament in 24 weeks of daily readings.

Verse of the Day
A daily inspirational and encouraging Bible verse.

Revised Common Lectionary (Semicontinuous)
Daily Bible readings that follow the church liturgical year, with sequential stories told across multiple weeks.

M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
The classic M'Cheyne plan--read the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Gospels every day.

Proverbs Monthly
Read through the book of Proverbs every month of the year.

It’s simple and easy. 

  • Go to http://biblegateway.com
  • Register for an account
  • From the menu--select Bible—select reading plans
  • Make your reading plan selection

Presently I am daily reading the Revised Common Lectionary. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Deeper Life? What is It?

So I’m attending a Deeper Life weekend.  I’d be curious what you think the Deeper Life is? 

When you read the end of Hebrews 5 and the beginning of Hebrews 6, does it impact your answer?

Hebrews 5:11-6:3
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

Do we ever move “beyond the elementary teachings”?  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Oh No!


How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
(Psalm 13:1-2)


Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
(Psalm 13:3-4)

His love
    His salvation
        His hope
            His goodness
But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.
(Psalm 13:5-6)

It’s so good I can turn to you in midst of those moments of despair.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dealing with the Wailing Sirens

We had one of those unusual weather moments in Iowa last Wednesday.  I wasn’t home.  I had to be in Kansas for some meetings.  About mid-afternoon my phone rang and on the line was my youngest son.  In the midst of his sobs, I deciphered one of his worst fears was being realized.  The tornado sirens were blowing.  

Ever since coming through St Louis 5 years ago when a tornado hit their airport, he has been an avid weather watcher and worrier.  We talk about his fear.  He continues to work through it.  But-none-the-less, when the sirens sound and even though he has retreated to the safety of the basement; and even though his mom is present to walk through the experience, he just wants to talk to his dad.

We’re not sure what David was facing in Psalm 16.  But some sort of threat caused him to open his Psalm with, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (vs. 1).  He too reaches out to his Father! 

In the midst of his “wailing sirens”, David reminds himself of these truths to combat his fears.

Verses 2-4
He knows God isn’t distant.  He is his Lord.  His people are his people.  David exclusively worships Him and no others.  There certainly is something about knowing your Father is watching, connected, and "there” when you are afraid.

When I was a little kid, I always relaxed and slept better when mom and dad were home.  No matter the noise in the house, fear dissipated when I heard that garage door go up indicating their returning presence and my beginning rest.   

When I am afraid, I am going to remind myself…
  • I belong to Him.  I’m His kid. I’m His concern.
  • He misses nothing happening in my life.
  • I will give more weight to Him than that which I fear.  I call that worship.

Verses 5-8
He knows God alone is his source of blessing, peace, and confidence.   David keeps his eyes on the Lord.  

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. died when the airplane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The two passengers on board, Kennedy's wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister Lauren, were also killed. The Piper Saratoga light aircraft had departed from Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey, and its intended route was along the coastline of Connecticut and across Rhode Island Sound to Martha's Vineyard Airport.

The official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that Kennedy fell victim to spatial disorientation while descending at night over water, consequently losing control of the aircraft. Kennedy did not hold an instrument rating and was certified to fly only under visual flight rules. However, at the time of the accident the weather and light conditions were such that all basic landmarks were obscured, making visual flight challenging, although legally still permissible. (Wikipedia)

Bottom line, he focused upon the wrong thing and ended up flying his plane into the ocean.  

How do I lock eyes with the Lord when I am afraid?
  • Daily practice and grow in my life of thankfulness.  The more I acknowledge everything I have is a gift from God, the less I hold with a clenched fist.  It’s the way I learn to value Him above everything else.
  • I recall His promises, His attributes, and His past actions.  I contextualize my fear.   As He grows bigger in my mind, my fears grow smaller.   I choose to place my fears (and their causes) in the context of who God is.

Verses 9-11
He knows God is faithful.  He is faithful today. He is faithful when it feels like the world is falling apart.  He is faithful even in death.  His faithfulness spans from today into eternity.

Christie and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this past August.  In our first anniversaries (and in even some of the later ones), Christie would give me a play-by-play of what we were doing on August 4th, 1990.   It served as a great reminder of a great day.

Beyond the ring I wear on my finger to remind me of my commitment, Christie also gave me something on our wedding day to remind me of her vows.  She wrote them out, had them framed, and they have sat on my bedside table for the last 25 years.  I get a reminder of Christie’s vow of faithfulness every night when I go to bed and every morning when I awake.

How do I make sure I remember God’s faithfulness when I am afraid?

  • Again, practice.   Trust is grown through experience.  The every day steps of faith prepare me for those moments in life that require a big step of faith. 
  • Learn, grow, and experience Him.  The better I know Him, the better I know His ways. 

I anticipate hearing my own “wailing sirens” in the upcoming months.  I’m not sure what will trigger them.  What I do know, like David and my son, I plan on getting ahold of my Father.