3 Thoughts on Transitions

We are affected by them, we do not want to acknowledge that at times, well a majority of fish transitionthe time we cannot control them, and they are what we call transitions. Transitions bring change, and if you are like me, I only like change on my terms, period. Transitions occur in small moments and in larger contexts that can bring us joy or cripple us with fear, and everything else in between. One truth is that we cannot avoid them whether we cause them or they just happen.  Transitions affect us greatly, and some of them we set out and plan for great transitions in our lives. However, we get caught in the grand idea of change and transition on our terms we tend to overlook the process that will bring that transition.

We can define transition as – a going across or a movement to cross, as in transit. From which we derive the use of this word to define our movements in action and in word. In speaking upon such a topic as this, I must confess, I miss the beauty in the process of embracing the small moments of transitions for they form my wholeness that informs my actions/movements in the larger contexts of greater transitions.  I am humbled by such knowledge and pray for Wisdom to show me how to grow in this embracement of the small things.

In the wisdom literature within the Bible we find a passage from the Proverbs that says, “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Prov. 16:9.This verse implies a transaction of transitions. Let us look at a few ways that of this implication:

  1. The Heart – in Jewish writings the heart is a reference to the will of person or that persons spirit that guides them with great courage or a discouraged will to engage with the world around them. The heart at times can be a resilient when facing a great variation of perplex situations that seem impossible to overcome. (insert your own experience) Also, the heart can cause a person to run in fear or sit in a paralyze state of non-movement, or cause a regression in to old habits. These thoughts are not exhaustive, however their intent is to bring to light our hearts can be fickle, and at best lukewarm in how we will respond to any given situation. That might feel like an indictment of our hearts, can you admit along we me, we are indecisive people, where we will move as the wind blows, maybe I am the only one. When we plan from our hearts we plan in hope we will not change our course due to how we feel or the pressures of life that are upon us.
  2. His (Our) Ways – tied to our heart is our will; this is our boot-straps mental state that says, “Yes We Can, and Thus We Must Do”. This kind of mindset and attitude I believe is God given, for we are to imitate Him in our ability to work and create. Where at times we miss the mark, is that we tend to live under and through our own capacity. Can you and I be honest, are capacities have a limit, even the most industrious and most intelligent person, has a capped limit. However, But with Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, gives our capacity and unending limit as we surrender our plans – transitions – movements unto Him.
  3. But the Lord… – Jesus bestows upon us a gift taking our plans and establishing them in a unique way. This unique way is by taking us through multiple and vast number of transitions to establish us not within our own plans, but transitions us into His plans for our lives. Then these glorious painful, self-denying, pressured filled, joyous moments of transitions culminate into a preparation for a larger context He has prepare us for, this greater calling is defined differently for each of us, but the goal is the same, which is to Glorify His Name through us and through our moments of transition of change. In this place we learn and see how He establishes us in His will and His purpose for us, not solely for us, but for the greater good of those around us and for His Kingdom.

Personally, I have been recently in a state of embracing these small transitions of change in knowing He will be leading me into a greater transition of change. This change of circumstances will have profound impact of these in my sphere of influence, which will impact the sphere of their influences as well, and it that influence goes on, and on, and on. Jesus calls us all to change our perspective to His and these moments of transitions to that perspective can and will cause us uncomfortable-ness, which is for our good and His glory. Where is Jesus calling you to transition from and where is that He wants to establish your steps as you surrender your plans unto Him? Let us learn together this process of transition: Our Hearts set to Plan our ways, But the Lord will Establish (as we submit and surrender to His will & purpose) Our Steps.

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Be Still Moments Pt. 1

Lighthouse in a Stormy SeaIf there has been particular writing that has directed a majority of my thoughts throughout the years, it has been the prayer found in the Psalms, the 46th one to be exact. The direction of the Psalmist wants his readers to know he has struggled or seen others struggles with God being his or their refuge and source of strength in moments where the open high stormy seas of life seem to have no end or answers how to get through them. In essence the Psalmist’s issue that he is combating within himself or what he sees with others is what he describes in v. 2, ,’Therefore we will not fear…’ This phrase of encouragement gives us the indication that he or others have allowed the woes of life to overtake them, to allow fear to encapsulate their lives with perpetuating worry and distress.

The Psalmist begins with this particular proclamation of encouragement, “God is our refuge and strength…” What a proclamation!! What a opening line to engage his audience!! Let this phrase sink in, “God is our refuge and strength”. What does it mean that God is our refuge? What does it mean God is our strength? From understanding these terms not just in thought but in application can he and his audience come to fully embrace, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I am God…”

“God is our refuge…” Refuge means a shelter from hardships, a place of protection, or a place of help – comfort – a place of relief in times of trouble. What does this truly say about God? It is says we can TRUST Him. Meaning He knows our deepest need and meets us right where we are by providing us shelter in Him. Trust means simply to have a firm reliance of conviction that a person or entity will provide you the right measure of comfort in uncertain times. In essence trusting is ‘letting go’ so we can and will be comforted. The Psalmist here is communicating that to allow God to be our refuge, we must trust Him fully without reservation, so God can comfort us.

“God is our refuge and strength Strength is a very misleading word in our language, we use it to describe many things, strength can be used to describe power, physicality, ability, determination and other various descriptions of what strength is or could be. Here in this text the word strength describes God strength as might. Might can be describe as having the ability of power of strength to hold things together, or the ability to change circumstances, such as creation, and the hearts of men. God is described here in this text to be mighty – the One who has the ability in His unlimited power to be a very present help in trouble. What is amazing God is exceedingly one-being found in our distresses! Meaning that His strength has the ability, the power to change the outcomes if we trust completely and not fear as seen in v. 2, “Therefore we will not fear….”  God’s strength allows Him to be our refuge a place of comfort for our weary souls that are found in the open high stormy seas of life!

This opening line to this Psalm is a declaration of God’s grace of provision, of protection, of comfort, and of being a shelter to all who find themselves in tragic situations. We all find ourselves here, for a crisis of any shape or size causes us to fear and worry about what is to come or what is to unravel. The Psalmist declares that God’s strength is able to change those situations, but only when we cease striving on our accord to let go of the control of the uncontrollable then God does become sovereign in our lives. God declares that He is with us, “God is in the midst of her…” (v.5a) and The LORD of hosts is with us…” (v. 7) this is a personal proclamation from God of where His heart is, where He shows His love and His grace. His act of being a refuge and our strength to carry us through the tragic moments speaks to His greatness of being the Father to all that never ceases to care for His children at all times without any variation of what you or I have done or what the situation is! May we find refuge in our God, may we find strength in our God, who loves us with an everlasting love!

May you and I find great comfort as we treed in the open unknown seas of life of unpredictability that our greatest hope is not in our plans to see us through, but that God is our refuge and source of strength as we navigate through these treacherous open high stormy seas of life! God is our refuge and strength where we find the greatest comfort and peace for our lives!

 

He Leadeth Me

I have grow into a pure enjoyment of the hymns, I confess I would not have said this 20 years ago. Maturing on this journey has led me to embrace the vastness of cherished works from those that have come before me. I encourage you, as do myself everyday to remember there is a cloud of witnesses that have come before us, that have run the same race we run, so let’s embrace their journey though song, lyric, and an open heart that desires to become more like Christ our Lord and Savior.

One on my goals this year is to introduce myself to a new hymn I have never heard before, and learn something form the writer of that hymn to as why they wrote those particular words, in that particular arrangement. Therefore, I will be tracing my journey of this new venture through this blog, in hopes what the Lord is encouraging me to set my mind upon, would encourage you all. In order to bring freshness to our very soul, mind and body in Him, Christ Jesus.

Here is the first of many hymns to discover and embrace the hope of the Truth we hold to:

He Leadeth Me, by Joesph Henry Gilmore:

As a young man who re­cent­ly had been grad­u­at­ed from Brown Un­i­ver­si­ty and New­ton The­o­lo­gic­al In­sti­tu­tion, I was sup­ply­ing for a cou­ple of Sun­days the pul­pit of the First Bap­tist Church in Phil­a­del­phia [Penn­syl­van­ia]. At the mid-week ser­vice, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the peo­ple an ex­po­si­tion of the Twen­ty-third Psalm, which I had giv­en be­fore on three or four oc­ca­sions, but this time I did not get fur­ther than the words “He Lead­eth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had ne­ver done be­fore, and I saw them in a sig­ni­fi­cance and won­drous beau­ty of which I had ne­ver dreamed.

It was the dark­est hour of the Ci­vil War. I did not re­fer to that fact—that is, I don’t think I did—but it may sub­con­sciou­sly have led me to real­ize that God’s lead­er­ship is the one sig­nif­i­cant fact in hu­man ex­per­i­ence, that it makes no dif­fer­ence how we are led, or whi­ther we are led, so long as we are sure God is lead­ing us.

At the close of the meet­ing a few of us in the par­lor of my host, good Dea­con Watt­son, kept on talk­ing about the thought which I had em­pha­sized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had in­tend­ed to speak, I pen­ciled the hymn, talk­ing and writ­ing at the same time, then hand­ed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watch­man and Re­flect­or, a pa­per pub­lished in Bos­ton, where it was first print­ed. I did not know un­til 1865 that my hymn had been set to mu­sic by Will­iam B. Brad­bu­ry. I went to Ro­ches­ter [New York] to preach as a can­di­date be­fore the Se­cond Bap­tist Church. Go­ing in­to their cha­pel on ar­riv­al in the ci­ty, I picked up a hymn­al to see what they were sing­ing, and opened it at my own hymn, “He Lead­eth Me.” – Cyber Hymnal 

He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Refrain

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Refrain

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

Refrain

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Refrain

He Ascended, So What? – Chuck Calson

ascensionHe Ascended, So What? – Chuck Calson

Many of times, we as believers, can proclaim the crucifixion of Christ as the central theme to the Gospel. I have to be honest I have sense that we cheapen the Gospel by just focusing on the Cross, the Cross is pivotal, but is not the main thrust – for better terms – but lets place the Cross in its proper place within the Gospel narrative.

The Gospel is the Kingdom of God, this what our Lord Jesus preached from the time he started his ministry and throughout his earthly ministry. With keeping the main thing the main thing, we ought to learn how to proclaim all aspects of the Gospel whether in preaching, teaching and sharing the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Chuck Colson – Rector of The Church of Ascension in Arlington, Virgiinia. Wrote a piece on He Is Ascended, So what? That is linked above from The Gospel Coalition blogs.

I believe this element of the Ascension is, at sometimes forgotten or minimalized in our proclamation of the Gospel. The Apostles never forgot to proclaim it, and never minimalized it this truth, nor should we.

I pray and hope you and I encouraged by the Ascension of Christ, for it completes the Gospel message of the Kingdom. May we labor to rightly proclaim the Gospel as our Lord has shown us to do.

In Christ our Lord and Savior,

Mike

ImageThere I was lying on a hospital bed, awaking from a traumatic experience. This experience has outlined how I see God interacting within my life. Though I must admit before I continue, that I am still a man that has doubt, with that said from this experience over fourteen years ago I find belief in my unbelief. Have you ever found yourself in that paradox, of believing but still having unbelief?

This experience I have eluded to happen in late September of 1997. I was struck by something as I was walking home from work around 1 o’clock on a Saturday morning. There was no reason of rhyme for this malicious attack, after I was struck I began to black out and the only thing I remember before I was found, was crying out to God for help. Another interesting detail to this event was where I was found. The place I was eventually found was the other side of a four lane road, about 40 yards from that road. I am not sure what drew the officer to look over there, but I can only thank God’s Spirit to guide that person out into that field at 3 am in the morning.

After I was rushed to a local hospital and went through CAT scans, various doctors looking me over as well as the nurses. I was placed in a Hospital room alone and scared. As I was laying there in that bed, I realized that my life came from moments from ceasing to exist and I was confronted with this question from the Spirit God, ‘are you done running?’ At that moment when there was no one around, it was just God and I, my response was, ‘yes I am done running’.

You might be asking, what were you ‘running’ from. That is a great question to ask, I was running from God’s calling in my life. That calling was that He was calling me to become a ‘mighty preacher/pastor’. I doubted that God knew whom he was calling to live out this calling. This call came at a time when I was young Christian as well as a young man, of the age of 18. Though I received it the calling in faith, but my doubt set in that how can God use a person like me in such a service to His kingdom. I allowed fear to rule my life in this area of, so I ran until I came to that moment where this life here was nearly over.  I lost sight of how God is faithful to His people of old and the present and the future to come.

From that act of running from God I am left reminded every day of that frightful morning from the physical scars I carry, not to mention the psychological scars as well. I bring this experience to the table to speak of a truth that the Psalmist King David wrote about; is that God’s love and faithfulness is found within His testimonies of His word, within in our lives, those around us and throughout history. The testimonies of God speaks to His character of forever being faithful, forever loving, and forever showing His mercies.

In the 25th Psalm, King David writes: 

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.’ (v.10)

 David understood his need to follow God’s commandments for they were put in place to show David that he needs God to accomplish the task set before him. David did this in faith knowing that God would keep His promises of taking care of David and the people of Israel. David also realized that God wants His people to trust Him and to seek after Him continuously (Ps. 25:4-5), in response how God has meet the needs of His people through God’s testimonies of His love and faithfulness.

As you and I grow in obedience with God in knowing His ways as He teaches us through His Spirit, we ought to remember and even mediate on how He has provide for us. The act of remembering His testimonies is for us to be reminded of who is in control of the uncontrollable. We may never truly know or understand why God allow certain things to transpire in our lives, however we can reflect on his faithfulness through those moments and become thankful for His faithfulness and enduring love for us. Then we can echo part of the prayer of Cardinal Newman called ‘A Meditation’:

“Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am. I cannot be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still He knows what He is about.” –

In applying this truth into our daily routine we live out the principle of being thankful & grateful of God’s provision, guidance, and protection.

It is not easy to remember to live this principle out, for we are people of ‘what have you done for me lately’ or God is only as good as His last greatest miracle in our lives. I know at times this true for me, is this true for you?

After my family and friends finally were notified about what happen to me and came to the hospital to comfort and embrace of this life being spared, I realized my life was spared in this world for a reason, and that reason is to share of His testimonies those found in His word and in my life. In which His testimonies propel me to share of His Gospel, which is life in the Kingdom of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His son.

God’s love and faithfulness found in His testimonies are the markers for us to rejoice for He cares for us and He will never forsake us.

Riding the Llama

How can you ride a llama allow it spit you in the eye and still fight those giraffes that charging at you? Ever feel like you are in a place in life where you have been dealt a llama to ride, a creature that spits, and possibly in your eye, and the things that are attacking you are giraffes. Why a giraffe cause there are odd animal that you would never suspect of having the ability or capability to attack you. A very weird but provoking thought. When we are in such a weird and strange place, we tend to think we can get ourselves out it, by our raw determination. Some cases yes and some no, however we turn to our own device, for at the end of the day it is our greatest weakness.

This weakness is one area in life all humankind struggles with or embraces is Pride. Pride is what tells us we have all things in the palm of our hands. Pride tells us that we are our own end and our means are those people or things we use to that end. The truth of the matter is pride keeps us from admitting how hopeless we really are in not being able to control the world around us. A self-abasement, self-centered, self-conceited Pride will kill us and bring havoc into our lives as well as others. This pride in which I am talking about is not the one that gives you confidence in your abilities or joy for others around you; it is the all consuming self-indulgent pride, which thinks of no one else but thy self.

Why this rant and rave about Pride, it is due to pride I have lost much in my life due to my own self-indulgent pride. My prideful thinking has led me to be the savior to my own problems. My pride ways are my finite wisdom. My pride is what I offer only to me alone. Self-indulgent pride stifles life from becoming joyfully, from truly being grateful, from seeing life from another point of view.

I wrote this entry about 3 years ago. I was reminded at that time of the relationships that have been lost to me through self-indulgent pride of my own and from others. What brought this up was I was told 3 years ago my niece was diagnosed as being deaf. There are other devastating news a family can receive such as cancer or heart failure. What caught my attention was due to my sister’s and mine estranged relationship, I was not able to offer comforting words, a note of encouragement all due to our self-indulgent pride.  At that time I thought I would never get the chance to meet my niece, but I was granted that chance, it was a short and brief, but I was overjoyed with that moment. Though I will most likely never know her due to pride in my life and the pride of my sister, but there is still is hope. My niece was born into a world of self-absorb people, like you and me, and is deaf because of the pride of life. Though many would say that her genetics went awry, this is true, but since the fall of humankind over thousands of years ago by our forefather and foremother. From that fateful occurrence humankind has suffered greatly due to self-indulgent pride. It is the thorn in our flesh that plagues all humankind, not one person is immune. Except for one in our own history, His name is Jesus the Nazarene. The only person that can right the wrongful act of pride that (sin) that leads farther from our Sustainer.

How can we stay seated on a llama that spits in your eye and is taking you towards giraffes as they attack you. Because as stupid an idiotic as that statement is, we have a choice. How will you choose? How will I choose? The chose is simple; choose to Love as God Loves, it is hard to do, for we are so full of ourselves.

“These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:11-13, ESV)

Maybe it is beneficial for us to ride on a llama that spits in our eye as we are being attack by giraffes.