Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Path Less Traveled (God and the Boundary Waters)

There has been a tradition in my family that started in the late 80's.  It's a tradition that I was able to join in on in 1995, and have been involved with ever since.  Every year that our schedules align, we make our way up to the Boundary Waters the first week of August.  We spend five days canoeing in what most of us consider the most beautiful country on earth.

While I was working this past week, a song came on the radio by For King & Country called "Fix My Eyes."  It's a song that I have heard many times, but this time a phrase jumped out at me.  Here's a portion of the lyrics:
"I learned the lines and talked the talk (everybody knows that, everybody knows that)
But the road less traveled is hard to walk (everybody knows that, everybody knows)
It takes a soldier
Who knows his orders
To walk the walk I'm supposed to walk"
The part that really jumped out at me was "the road less traveled is hard to walk."  On our canoeing adventures over the years, portages (the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters) have been a way of life.  You get used to them.  Some are hundreds of feet, and others are over a mile long.  We have taken two kinds of routes through the years.  We've taken routes that are easy where you see a LOT of people, and there tend to be few portages that are well traveled. And we've taken routes that are harder where you see very few people, and the portages are rocky, hard to navigate, and can be downright miserable.  Any idea which route I like to take? Although those routes that are less traveled can be much harder, the beauty you find in nature, and the peacefulness around you is far greater than taking the more popular routes.  I would much rather carry a canoe up a steep rocky path, be bruised and bloodied, and be able to enjoy the peace without other groups around me, than travel a flat well traveled path, and have to dodge groups throughout the entire trip. 
 The song reminded me of this.  Although there are paths that seem easy and wide, what you find on those paths will pale in comparison to what you will find on those hard and rocky paths.  If you live in America, the easy path is something that we are told we have to strive for.  Who doesn't want to live on easy street, right?  But what needs to be realized is that our relationship with our Savior is what should always be placed first in our lives.  Living the American dream shouldn't even be near the top of our priority list.  The hard part is actually choosing that rocky path.  It takes a lot of faith to choose a path that could potentially bring a lot of pain and hardship over a path that will be easily traveled. 
I am reminded of two passages today:
Matt. 7:13-14
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Matt. 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I used to question myself all of the time.  The path before me seemed so daunting, and I would find myself exhausted just thinking about it.  But I was doing the opposite of what Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, 
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
            And do not lean on your own understanding.

      In all your ways acknowledge Him,
            And He will make your paths straight."
It is one thing to read, and yet another to put into action.  When I started practicing all of these passages in my life, I found myself on that rocky path that sometimes left me bloodied and bruised.  But I couldn't be happier in knowing that it's not by my strength or power that I know that I will see God throughout the rockier portage path of life, but by the One who provides me with that strength because I've chosen to take the path less traveled.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Different Level and Understanding of Trust

     I was thinking about some of the things that hinder our lives and why it is so.  Many of us either don't realize that we do this, or we do realize it, and that is what drives our focus.  Many of us let our lives be run by the fear of sin.  We often fear sin so much that we focus on it rather than focus on getting past it through the ultimate freedom and forgiveness we have through Christ.  Please don't think that I am trying to make light of our sin.  If we allow sin to infiltrate our lives without admission, repentance, and sorrow, then we risk becoming out of touch with our Father, as 1 John 3:7-10 says,

"Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."

Sin is not to be taken lightly. However, when we focus on it to the point that we neglect accomplishing God's will, then that sin becomes, in and of itself, an idol in our lives. We run the risk of becoming like the Israelites of the Old Testament who became so focused on the letter of the law that God spoke through Isaiah (recorded in 1:11-16) saying,

“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.

“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?

“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.

“I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,"

What was lacked, and many times lacked within ourselves, was and is a reverence for the One who provided freedom from the bonds of sin. Our Father doesn't want us to simply acknowledge that our sin was taken care of on the cross, but very literally turn from our sin, and trust that He has taken care of it. We will continue to struggle with sin, but we, as Christians, should approach it with an attitude of seriousness that doesn't distract us from trying to fulfill the ultimate will of the Father, but with the understanding that the Father who called us has provided an answer to sin.

Sin is something that should be dealt with daily, but something that does not deserve our reflection. Our reflection should be reserved for one purpose...."How can I better accomplish the will of my Father?"
Trust that God can accomplish this in you. Trust that He will do mighty things through you. Trust that when He says sin has no hold, that it has no hold. When we can work up that kind of courage, our lives will truly change.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Be Moved

     After a retreat that I attended in January of 2013 (www.encounterthecross.com),  I have come to realize that a radical change was needed in my life.  It has led to some major decisions within myself, my family, my business, and my involvement in my church.  What I have come to understand is that I can go to a retreat, can meet God there, and have Him work on my life that weekend, but unless I make the decision to let Him continue to move in my life, it was all for not.
     I personally tend to get wrapped up in the things that society and culture tells me to be wrapped up in.  I put the things I have learned from the world in front of things I learn through the Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit.  I find myself asking, "what is truly important in this life?"  The cliche answer is 1. God 2. Family 3. Others 4. Church.  What I have been challenged with is this list: 1. God.........
It's not that all of the others aren't important, but that honestly giving the rest of them to God to take care of can be a true test of who we are.  This doesn't negate my responsibility to any of the rest of this list, but puts it all in perspective.  With this perspective, I am able to slow a busy life down to the point where the will of God becomes evident through prayer, meditation, and reading His word.
     I have had this tendency to do Christianity lip service in the past.  It was a part of my life, but my life was never a part of it.  Things are different now.  I find myself seeking God's counsel more and more.  The human side of me still wants to hold things back, but I feel my spirit urging me to take hold of the all-powerful will of God in my life.  To give Him dominion over all aspects of my life...ALL ASPECTS.  To be moved.
     The more I find myself giving up, the more I realize the intricacies of sin.  The little things that I used to pass off that have become big things in my life.  But since I had always considered them little things, when they became big, I failed to recognize them.  The cool thing about it now is that, since I'm taking hold of living a Christian life, I can very truly find freedom.  I have brothers and sisters to help me fight the spiritual battles within, and I do the same for them.
     As has been pointed out, God only ever used one flawless person on this earth.  Take hold of the will of God in your life.  You are going to make mistakes along the way, but the more faith you show in God along the way, the more He is going to use you to accomplish His will.  What is His will?  To bring the lost back to Him.  To save as many souls from the clutches of death as possible.  We are the warriors, we are the servants, we are workers.  Be still.  Be moved.

Monday, May 19, 2014


     I was reading through Ezekiel a couple of weeks ago, and I came across chapter 37 where God asks Ezekiel if the dry bones before him can live.  If you haven't read this story in a while, it is worth the read.  The following Sunday at church, we sang a song talking about the dry bones.  And, while we were in Iowa, my in-laws preacher preached about the dry bones.  Even tonight on the way home I was reminded by All Sons and Daughters that it's His breath in our lungs just like the breath that brought life to dry bones that day in the desert.  Needless to say I began to feel that "tap" saying, "I have something for you here."  I've been chewing on it for a week now, and I feel like part of it hit me tonight.
     Many of us have gotten in a rut of looking the part of a Christian.  We do the right things.  We say the right things. We go to church on Sunday.  We pray.  We read our bible.  On the outside, we are striving to look like what we are told a Christian should be, and we wonder why we are frustrated when we don't see God moving in our lives.  What many of us are missing is a true and unquestioning belief that God can do anything.  In essence, we don't believe that God is God.  We look at what is before us, and don't take the time to listen to God when He says, "Just give it to me."  We think it is impossible, and therein lies the problem...WE think.  All God wants is an unquestioning faith.  He wants us to bring him the humanly impossible so He can once again prove to His children that absolutely nothing is impossible for the God who created every last stitch of this earth.  That is what is so awesome and inspiring about the mysteries of our Father.  We so badly want to be "in the know," but it takes putting that aside, and really trusting that God's plan is infinitely better than whatever solution we can come up with.
     After you take that step in faith, don't be an Israelite and fall back into the same rut.  Thank your God, love your God, be humbled, and continue to move boldly in faith.

     I'll update as I think and pray about this more.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Part 1: The Purpose of the Armor of God

     While talking about the armor of God yesterday with a friend, something became very apparent to me.  The armor of God isn't meant for just a personal level.  It has been increasingly revealed to me over the past year that we were never meant to fight the battle that we face against the "world forces of this darkness" alone.
     Ephesians 6:10-17 spells out what should be our response to an evil and fallen world.  As the church in Ephesus was called to be proactive, so too should we be proactive in our preparation.  As we see the evil in this world spelled out in these verses, we are given a clear picture of what a soldier of Christ looks like.  We are to gird our loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, and shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.  In addition to these we add the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
     Brothers and sisters, we should make it of utmost importance to make sure every one of these pieces is kept in pristine condition.  We have to start living like this world is a temporary stop in our spiritual journey. On this part of the journey, however, we contend with evil unseen.  We are in the midst of the battle for the souls of men, and we, as Christians, are on God's font lines of that battle.  Not only should we make sure that our armor, shields, and swords are fit for battle for ourselves, but make our own fit for our brothers and sisters as well.  If we are on the front lines standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we should know that we can hold the forces of evil back as a solid unit.  A brotherhood united with one purpose.  It is just as important to guard each other from the evil one, as it is to guard ourselves.  Our enemy is crafty, and we need to learn to work together in this fight.