Crossing the border…

There is much discussion of how to deal with Syrian refugees. Do we accept them or not? Why are we having this discussion? Because we have discovered that a Syrian refugee was one of the ISIS terrorists in Paris. Basically, we are afraid that allowing a Syrian refugee to cross our borders may allow another tragedy. We are afraid, plain and simple. Fear is driving our decision-making.

What’s another word for extreme fear? Terror.

We have allowed the terrorists to succeed. What’s worse than allowing them to cross our borders? Allowing them to enter our minds and control our decisions. And they have. Additionally, politicians are clamoring for votes and trying to get on the most popular side of this issue to garner support. Beware of anyone who tries to prey on your fear.

Instead, look at the big picture. Discover, as a follower of Jesus, how you can love the unloveable, touch the untouchable, and be a beacon of hope to a world so desperately looking for it.

After all, as a Christian, you and I are children of God, with Christ dwelling in us, and we live in the UNSHAKEABLE kingdom of God.


Day 3…

As I read through today’s Draw The Circle devotional, Mark Batterson talked about consecration. Consecration, as he put it, is death of self. It is a lifelong journey of surrender in total dedication to God. It is the process of not holding anything back from God.

As Batterson puts it:

“I know there is a fear that if we give more of ourselves to God, there will be less of us less, but it’s the exact opposite. It’s not until we die to ourself that we truly come alive. The more we give to God, the more we have and the more we become. It’s only in losing our lives that we truly find them.”

He tells of great men God like Dwight L. Moody and Jonathan Edwards who, when fully dedicated to the Lord, did amazing things for God during their lives. He tells the story found in Joshua where the Lord tells the Israelites to “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5) They did; and the Lord did: He parted the Jordan River and crossed on dry ground.

But I found myself bristling against some of what he said. For instance, the very last sentence of today’s devotional reads:

“If we give more of ourselves to God, God will give more of Himself to us.”

God gave all of Himself when He gave His one and only son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) How much more can He give!?! It also sounds like a formula for performance. The more we give = the more we get. There’s something about that which is true. But there’s something that’s not quite right, too.

What about those that struggle? You and I have issues. Face it. We do. We all are sinners. Each day. Every day. I am desperately in need of God and His grace. With the formula above, I could easily believe that if I fail at giving God my all today, or if I give something to him one day in complete surrender and then take it back the next day, I’m a complete loser and a total failure. There are thousands of folks walking around believing that today. Thousands.

Because Jesus succeeded, we can fail.
Because Jesus surrendered, I can fall short in my surrender and not feel like a loser.
Because Jesus won, I’m free to lose.

When I fully grasp the freedom found in Jesus and what was accomplished on the Cross, I am humbly compelled to live my live wholly and completely for God. It’s isn’t a matter of me willingly surrendering. It’s not a matter of the will. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus… and surrender just happens.

Yes, it is still a process. But, for me, it is not a process of surrender, it is a process of fully realizing the love God has for me in Christ Jesus. As I fully comprehend this complete, satisfying, all-encompassing love that heals all wounds and fills all voids, I find myself more and more completely consumed by His love… and more and more completely in love with Him.

I become more and more completely His. If that’s being consecrated, then so be it.

A Perfect Storm…

During the Inspiration Cruise to Alaska that Sharon and I were on last week, Dr. David Jeremiah was the headline speaker. Phillips, Craig, and Dean each had morning devotions, and Michael W. Smith and Nicole Nordemann also spoke. The theme or main topic seemed (for me) to be dealing with fear.

Dr. Jeremiah preached three times and each time spoke on fear: “What Are You Afraid Of?”, “Fear of Failure”, etc. Although I’m not the fearful type (at least I thought so), my ears were perked up the entire trip because I was anticipating hearing from God during the trip.

In one of the sessions, Dr. Jeremiah taught from Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm. We’ve all heard the story plenty of times and we think we know it well. I know I did.

Then Dr. Jeremiah said something profound: “A perfect storm can follow perfect obedience. Just look at the disciples of Jesus. He said, ‘Let’s go to the other side.’ They followed. They were obedient. And a storm ensued.”

I had never thought of that.

Many times folks think that the perfect will of God is a safe place. While it’s true that God is with you while you walk in the perfect will of God and therefore, and you can trust Him fully, the perfect will of God may be a dangerous place. It may be a risky place. It may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

In all likelihood, it will require sacrifice and huge steps of faith. And as Dr. Jeremiah points out, although a “perfect storm” may result, the words of Jesus and God Almighty ring true:

“Do not fear” (Exodus 20:20, Isaiah 35:4, 41:10)
“I am with you” “I will be with you” (Genesis 28:15, Exodus 3:12, Isaiah 41:10)
“Why are you still afraid?” (Mark 4:40)
“Be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6-7, Joshua 1:6-7,9,18, 1 Corinthians 16:13)
“I will go before you and be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12)
“I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6,8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)

Although a perfect storm may follow perfect obedience, the answer is perfect love.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)