Tag Archives: Invitation

Baggage

“Life is largely a matter of luggage.” -Frank Boreham, The Luggage of life

I’m always amazed at how much we are willing to carry with us that is completely unnecessary.

We are masters at gathering baggage.

The burden of the load slows our journey, distracts our minds and confuses our relationships.

John Bunyan wrote about baggage in his work Pilgrim’s Progress.

George Carlin talked about it in a comedy routine.

No matter who we are we find a way to carry our lives around with us. Often it’s emotional baggage we have accumulated over the years. Unforgiveness. Anger. Hurts. Old memories of wrongs done. Pain. And the list could continue for pages. But have you noticed that it’s always the negatives that become baggage? It’s all the hurts of life that weigh us down. The pain that handicaps us.

The good that God intended has no weight at all.  Joy is light as a feather. Happiness lifts us up rather than weighing us down. Peace carries its own load and helps us along the way. Kindness refreshes the weary traveler. Love makes the impossible possible once more. Mercy energizes. Grace empowers. The things God wants us to put in our backpacks help us on the way and have no weight to load us down. It’s only when we carry the results of sin that the weight and struggles begin.

That’s the invitation Jesus extended. “Come unto me….” It’s found in Matthew 11-12 if you want to read it. His invitation is to make the journey without all the baggage of the world in tow. When will we realize that this journey was meant to be a wonderful adventure with God instead of a grueling journey to be endured? When will we get rid of all that weighs us down and pick up the things that make the journey a joy?

I wonder sometimes about our fascination with baggage. It’s as if we have to hold onto something. I even see it in death. We are so reluctant to let go of this life. We want to hold onto all the junk we have accumulated, but find in the end that it’s just that….junk. I wonder if we will ever realize we have become a race of junk collectors….glad to carry the burdens of our trash instead of enjoying the blessings God provides.

Waiting….

Waiting. It’s one of the hardest things we do. Waiting for answers, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for someone to arrive. Waiting is loaded with expectations and anticipations. We are waiting for something, someone and things will change when the waiting is over.

Waiting is a pause in our lives, as if the picture is frozen on the screen and we wait for someone to once more push the play button. Waiting is hard.

Waiting involves the passing of time as we anticipate the thing, the one we wait for. Anticipation. Expectation. Frustration at times are all part of this thing called waiting. As I read Psalm 37 this morning, one of my favorite Psalms, it’s clear that God invites us to wait….to wait for Him. Several times in this chapter the invitation is given to wait for the Lord. There are good reasons for this. We conclude God is late, has gotten busy somewhere else, has forgotten us, but the truth is that we have simply missed God’s ways and timing and so we find we wait for the one who is never late.

“Wait for the Lord and keep his way” David writes. In this short phrase are the instructions for those of us waiting, while you wait walk with God until he arrives. The truth is he is always with us, never leaves us, but waiting involves a patience with God’s timing, God’s plans, God’s ways. It involves my choices to walk well while I wait.

“But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” There is a reward for waiting. The reward is God’s business, but the waiting is ours.

There is a reason for the waiting. We may not always know what that is, but wait we must and trust God to work while we wait.

There is a rest in waiting. It means I have someone I’m trusting for what’s ahead and I dare not proceed until he arrives. It’s an awareness that I must not walk alone the road ahead, but wait for God to walk with me, to lead me and guide me.

 

There is a peace in waiting. It’s the realization that I wait for one who will accomplish all I wait for. The God who made heaven and earth asks me to wait for him. Why wouldn’t I? How would I dare proceed without him? Waiting for God is the most logical decision of all!

What are you waiting for? Direction? Answers to prayer? A job? Healing? Peace? God’s response to your waiting? “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret….” In other words, don’t worry. God’s coming. He will sort it all out for you. Rest in him, relax, don’t worry, he’s coming….he’s never late.

Wait for the Lord.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Living On A Twisted Planet

One of my favorite books is a poorly written fiction by Harold Myra titled “Escape from the twisted planet.” It’s a fascinating picture of life on a twisted planet and what it might be like on planets where sin never happened. The reason I love the book is the visions it paints of what life might be like without sin’s pervasive influence and destroying impact. All around us, like fish in water, sin pervades all we know, all we experience. It would be difficult to imagine life without the destructive nature of sin in us and in the world around us.

If we eliminated all the jobs that deal with sin and its impact on the culture most of us would be out of work! We are used to it all, but just imagine what it would be like without all that sin has done- no prisons, no police, no hospitals, no doctors, no nurses, no congress to make laws, no courts to enforce them, no traffic signs, no fear, no anger, no jealousy, no hurts emotionally or physically, and on goes the list. If we were to make a complete list of what sin has done to us it would be much longer than you could possibly imagine! Living on a twisted planet is difficult, but it’s all we know.

Go with me for moment to a place where sin has not touched its inhabitants. It’s hard because we can’t imagine such a place, but let’s take a moment and travel to a planet that sin has not affected. The people there have no worries, no one is there to hurt them, steal from them, or reject them. There’s no fear, no pain, no jealousy, no peer pressure, none of the things that are woven into our very natures on this world. It’s hard to imagine because, like those fish, we can’t conceive of a place without water, or a world without sin’s pervasive influence.

Sin has been much more destructive to us as humans than we could possibly imagine. Even as a Christian the pull of sin in my life is still strong. I constantly battle with sin’s influence and invitation.

Paul tells us that we, as Christians, are citizens of another kingdom. A kingdom sin has not touched, a world as God designed it in the beginning…..perfect. When I use the word perfect what I mean is a place that has not been twisted by the work on sin. It’s a kingdom coming soon, a country on the horizon that promises and provides joy, peace, happiness, compassion, kindness, caring, community like you have never known. It’s a kingdom we all long for, a place apart from the twisted planet that has left us bankrupt because of sin’s work on our little broken world. It’s a kingdom I’m thrilled to be a citizen of and can’t wait to see. Soon we will escape from this twisted planet and discover what life was meant to be. I look forward to the day when this twisted planet is set right by God’s return to claim his people and his planet. As John writes at the end of the book of Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Who Do You Answer To?

1 Cor. 11:3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ,

This morning I came upon this phrase in a passage I am reading and it caught my attention in a new way. Suddenly I saw that it doesn’t say Christ is the head of every CHRISTIAN man, but in fact the claim of this passage is that Christ is the head of EVERY man. Every man answers to Christ because he is their authority, their boss, their Lord. The great battle of mankind is this battle over who do we answer to. The world claims, “I’m my own boss! I answer to no one! I have no head over me.” But this verse claims that every man is accountable to Christ, he is the boss. It’s this rebellion against his reign in their lives that is the great battle of the human race. It was Satan’s rebellion. It was his temptation to Adam and Eve. It’s his temptation to me to rebel and be my own boss. It is his invitation to you as well….you don’t have to answer to anyone. You are the lord of your own life, but it’s not true. Paul is not vague on this when he writes, I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ. What we see around us is the great cosmic rebellion against the Lord of heaven and earth, but one day….one day soon….

at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
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Seekers

We all search for something.

We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.

We are born seekers.

But it’s easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after.  Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled.  Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.

As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, Seek humility;” I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look.  It’s natural to be a seeker, but we don’t always know where to look.

As children we all played “hide and seek”.  We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.

It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look.  And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places?  Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest?  If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest?  Here are just a few of the clues that I found,

Psalm 53:2
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible!  To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.

We are, by nature, seekers of things.  God invites us to be seekers of relationship.  We search out external happiness.  God invites us to seek internal happiness.  We make our search about US.

God invites us to seek HIM.

Seek Him.  In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest.  It’s simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search…a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after.  It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.

Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Praying Big Prayers

John 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

One of the passages of scripture that has troubled me my entire Christian life is this passage in John. These are words from the mouth of Jesus. This is a big invitation to ask. It’s haunting in its scope and difficult in reality. I’ve read many commentaries on this passage and others that speak about prayer, but still these words challenge me. They challenge me in my faith, in my prayers, in my view of God and in my desires personally.

Can I ask for a fancy car? A lot of money? A nice home? Some would tell me yes, that’s exactly what these verses talk about, but then I come to the words that follow the invitation by Jesus, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” My prayers and God’s answers are meant to do one thing- glorify the Father through the Son. Does that limit my prayers? Not really, but it does focus them. Does what I want bring glory to God? Will it make JESUS look good rather than make me comfortable? This is an invitation to big prayers to a big God for a big reason- his glory. Honestly I don’t ask for big things. I should…the invitation has been extended. God wants me to ask. He promises to respond. He even tells me why he will answer.
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Could it be that my faith is so small, my prayers are so small because my God is too small? I think I need to see God right sized. I know I don’t always do that. That’s what big prayers and big answers will do….they will help me see God in the right way…so it’s time for some big prayers!