Category Archives: Obedience

Doing Greater

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 

These words, spoken by Jesus in John 14:12, having been rolling around in my mind for the past week. Whoever believes in Him will do the same things He did. And even greater things. Think about that for a minute. Hmmm. I’ve had to ask myself a few questions.

Do I believe in Jesus? Yes.

Am I doing the same stuff He did? No – well – maybe sometimes.

Do I believe that the Bible is true? Yes.

All of it? Yes.

Then why am I not doing what Jesus did, and greater? I don’t know.

I recently read an advance copy of a to-be-released-in-November book that posed these very same questions. I was supposed to be reading the book from a reviewer’s viewpoint, but I was quickly caught up in the story and the increasing awareness of what it might mean to take the Bible literally. Not just to say I believe every line of scripture. But to actually believe it. For real.

Because if it’s for real, then it means I’d act on it.

The fact that I don’t reveals a lot. And that fact concerns me.

So . . . I am contemplating a Quest.

To believe. To act on what I believe. To do the things Jesus did.

And greater.

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The Observer

If any of you follow the television series Fringe, you will know who the Observers are. They look weird. They act weird. They talk weird. And they don’t actually do much except observe.

There are a lot of people just like them in the non-Fringe world around us. I don’t mean in a creepy science fiction way. I’m talking about people who live their entire lives as observers, never actually doing much. Never participating. Never really engaging in life.

How sad.

I understand that for some people it’s very difficult to step out and be a participant. They’re painfully shy. Or they’ve been hurt. There could be any number of reasons. But for many, many observers, they are that way because it simply takes too much effort to do anything else. They’ve fallen into a rut, developed habits that keep them there, and the thought of climbing out of the rut just doesn’t occur to them. Or if it does, they don’t take it seriously.

It’s called laziness.

And now I’ll share a little secret.

You get to choose the kind of life you live.

No, you don’t have a choice about who your parents are, or where you were born, or how you spent your early childhood. But you have a choice now. You can let the negative things that happened in your past dictate what happens to your future. You can allow yourself to fall into the trap that tells you nothing will change – to be an observer of life because it’s too hard to be anything else.

Or . . .

You can make the decision to be a participant. Take charge of your future. Plan. Set goals. Walk it out.

No excuses. You’re not too old. You’re not too young. You are smart enough. You do have the ability. You can do it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it – especially other observers who don’t want you to convert to participation.

And it’s a really good idea to get God involved. He’s a great coach!

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Ephesians 2:1-6 (The Message)

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The Green Arrow

Last night I had Nikolas, my three year old grandson, with me for a short drive. Buckled safely into his car seat, he chattered non-stop during the entire twenty minute trip, telling me pretty much everything that was going on in his head. He also took great pleasure in back seat driving (he prefers right turns over left turns) and made sure I knew when the traffic lights were red or green, indicating loudly whether I should stop or go.

Then came the green arrow.

I explained the fundamentals of what green arrows meant in traffic and Nik seemed to understand the concept. He was very intent upon finding as many as he could after that. But then, from the back seat, I heard his voice, “Oh man! I missed the gween awwow.” He was so upset with himself and I had to stifle a burst of laughter.

As cute as Nik’s comment was, I realized later how much truth he unknowingly spoke.

How often have I missed the green arrow?

I pray. I ask God to direct my path. I ask Him to show me where and when to go. And then I miss the big flashing green arrow He’s set right in front of me, barreling straight on ahead when I should have turned left.

Why?

Because I am often a distracted driver. I’m not talking on my cell phone (there are laws about that), but my mind is not engaged in what I am doing. I am thinking about all kinds of things  other than what I should be focusing on at that moment. I am not seeing the green arrows God has placed in strategic places along my route, even when His divine GPS does a course correction and tries to show me another way to get where He wants me to go. And I imagine He is shaking His head and saying, “Oh man! She missed the green arrow.”

I want to do better today. I am keeping my spiritual eyes open for those green arrows.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

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Back Off, Okay?

Dear Readers,

On this lovely, quiet morning, I respectfully tell you to BACK OFF!

You’ve got deadlines. I get that. You’ve got things that need to be done. I get that, too. But you’re overwhelmed. You feel the panic rising every time you think about how you’re going to do it all. You are hacking away at the big picture, hardly making a dent, because you haven’t backed off from your frenzied activity long enough to take a good look at how ineffective you’ve been.

Stop!

Take a breath. Now take another one. There, doesn’t that feel better? Make a conscious effort to fill your lungs properly and then slowly let the air out.

Read this:

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

Now rest. That’s all.

 

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The Lesson

I remember once spending a good chunk of a perfectly good weekend trying to get an operating system installed on a freebie laptop.

I am usually pretty good at computer stuff and thought this would be easy. Wrong. Nothing worked and I became frustrated beyond belief. I wanted to throw the whole thing out the window and forget about it. But . . . I reminded myself that the computer didn’t cost me a cent and if I had to take it in to a PC repair shop to get the deed done, then so be it.

After I calmed down, I decided to give it one more try and Googled “how do I reformat my hard drive and install Windows XP”. Lo and behold, the very first website that came up was a step by step instruction on how to do this, and within an hour the good old laptop was back in operation. Amazing what happens when one follows instructions.

Is there a lesson to be learned in all of this? Of course there is. And I’m going to get spiritual here because it’s a pretty awesome lesson.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be one of those people who likes to do everything myself – you know the type. Kind of bossy. Know-it-all. I need to know it’s done right. Right? Doesn’t matter that lots of other people could do a better job. Anyway . . . this tiny little character flaw often spills over into my Christian life. I neglect to follow the instructions in God’s Word and end up getting frustrated and impatient, wondering what went wrong. Like my way is better than God’s??? But when I get the step by step instructions set out so clearly bythe Father in His Word, I am back up and running in no time.

Yeah, there are consequences to going my own way, just as there were consequences resulting from trying to fix the computer without the instructions. And those consequences are usually unpleasant. God is loving and forgiving, however, and He makes a way where there is no way. Things may not be as perfect as they would have been had I followed His direction in the first place, but I’ve hopefully learned something in the process and I am stronger at the end of it.

So there’s the Lesson.

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It’s a Matter of Trust

I spent most of last week attending a pity party – mine. I allowed the Accuser to delve into my past and remind me of all kinds of incidents that had hurt me, angered me, and embarrassed me. He was very thorough.

I didn’t like what was happening, but I felt like I was entitled to some “poor me” time. A few people even told me it was okay to be down and depressed sometimes. Everyone gets run down, they said. You can’t be up all the time, especially when you’re so busy. I agreed. And I proceeded to slip further into that stinky pit of despair, recording all kinds of destructive emotions in my journal.

Stop!

That word came through loud and clear. I scrambled for an excuse to give the Lord as He waited for my response. I had none.

“You don’t like what I’m doing in your life.” It was a statement, not a question.

“Um – not to sound ungrateful, but – no. I don’t like it at all.” At least I was being honest.

God was quiet for a moment. “There’s no Plan B, you know.”

“I know.”

“So you have to make the most of the only Plan there is. Your choice.”

“I don’t know how.”

“I’ll show you.”

By this point in the conversation, I was in tears. I knew I’d messed up and getting back on track is never easy. But God, in His gentle way, began to help me understand a few things.

“You’ve been a little self-centred.” He said. “And when you’re self-centred, you’re more focused on how you can get a better life rather than on how you can love Me.”

My nod was hardly discernable. I knew He was right, but who likes to hear that?

“I brought you out of that prison of self-centredness.” His voice was quiet. “I brought you out so I could bring you into the freedom of love.”

“Can you explain that?”

“Of course. Do you know that love has absolutely no meaning at all unless it remains alive when the one you say you love seems distant and uncommunicative?”

I’d never thought about love that way.

God continued. “The same is true with Me. If you love Me only when I answer your prayers and satisfy your desires right at the moment you ask, then your love is simply another form of self-centredness.”

“God, I’ve been guilty of that. I’m sorry.”

“I know you are. And I’ve already forgiven you.”

“But how do I change?”

“You trust. “

“Trust?”

“Yes. Your love for Me will become trust when you choose to believe that I brought you out of something bad to bring you into something good – before you even experience that something good.” He paused. “Then your love is sustained by confidence in My character, not by enjoyment of whatever blessings may or may not come into your life.”

“I think I get it.”

“I knew you would.”

“You’re asking me to love You like that, Lord, but I don’t know if can.” I told Him. “The whole thing about respecting You for who You are, following You wherever You tell me to go, serving You with my whole heart, and obeying every command You give me – well – that’s pretty impossible.”

“It’s true, I have asked that of you. But I also knew that you weren’t capable of loving me like that, so I’ve always had a plan to do it for you.”

“Jesus.”

“Yes, my precious Son, Jesus. When I put the life of My Son, who always pleases Me, into your heart, you can love Me and serve Me as I have asked you to.”

“That is so awesome!” I told Him. “You are awesome!”

He smiled. “It’s what I promised to do. What My Son accomplished in His death and resurrection made it possible for My Spirit to change people’s hearts – to allow them to love Me even when I don’t satisfy them right away, because they trust Me.”

Our conversation ended and I knew the rest was up to me. I could choose to wallow in the dump, or I could trust God.

I’m so glad He never fails me.

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