Trust

The following is my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). It is based on a poem I wrote and published on my blog last week titled, “The Forest”. To God be the glory.


I remember the good ole days when I would turn on the evening news and get informed on what was going on in the world, this nation and the community around me. I even looked forward to it as those behind-the-desk personalities connected with me personally – like they were family. Their insight into the events helped me understand better what was going on and I trusted them. Each night I would turn on my television and wait. When my “family” appeared, they seemed happy to see me and thus I gave them my undivided attention. But gone are those days. Actually, I cannot remember the last time I anxiously turned on the evening news or even reluctantly turned it on. Those days are gone because my so-called “family” has made it easy for me to let go. It is hard to know what or who to trust anymore and thus I have stopped showing up to those evening “family reunions”. Events are still happening in the world, but now I am forced to be more careful of what I read, watch and believe.


And I am thankful, because it has redirected and reinforced in me whom I ultimately should be trusting: Jesus. I used to find peace in knowing what was going on in the world; now I find peace in God knowing me in Jesus Christ. I used to find peace in a “family” who never truly knew me; and now I am at peace in the family of God. I used to find peace in being able to discuss and even debate the events of the day; now I find peace in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
In the end it is about whom you trust and whom you will follow. Following Jesus is not always easy, but it is always right, for he is always faithful and true. Following Jesus may seem scary and confusing at times, but he IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. Oh sinner, trust and follow Jesus, and be at peace now and with God forever through the forgiveness of your sins.
The following poem is something I wrote as I reflected on following Jesus – anywhere – trusting him with my life.


Following Jesus is one of trust,
like walking through a
forest
and not knowing the way.
Trees –
all looking the same.
Paths –
some looking safe
some looking scary.
Eyes –
watching and judging and waiting.
Noises –
a jumbled mess.
Some days I feel
lost,
but then his gentle hand
reassures.
And just when I think that I am through the
forest,
there is a

cliff.
And Jesus says jump.


Will you jump with me and be at peace? To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen

The Forest

Following Jesus is one of trust,
like walking through a
forest
and not knowing the way.
Trees –
all looking the same.
Paths –
some looking safe
some looking scary.
Eyes –
watching and judging and waiting.
Noises –
a jumbled mess.
Some days I feel
lost,
but then his gentle hand
reassures.
And just when I think that I am through the
forest,
there is a
cliff.
And Jesus says jump.

Evening Trust

I entrust my body and soul to Your tender, gentle and mighty hands this night. For the darkness is not darkness to You. No evil dares confront You. You are Lord and sovereign King. You are my loving Father. You are all of this and more –  and I am Yours and thus i have no fear. So i entrust my body and soul to You this night and forevermore.

Plowing Forward

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:62 ESV]

When Jesus calls you to follow, he is not looking for excuses.
When Jesus calls you to follow, he doesn’t mean finish your to-do-list first.
When Jesus calls you to follow, you are not to long for that which you left.
When Jesus calls you to follow, you are to follow with eyes wide open and focused on him.

For when Jesus calls you to follow, he is to be the priority above everything and everyone else. Yours eyes are to be firmly fixed on him; moving forward without hesitation. But why is this such a struggle for people? Why do people cling to what they have or look back at what they left? It is simple, really. They don’t truly trust that Jesus knows what he is talking about. When times got tough for the people of God that Moses was leading in the wilderness, what did they do? They started to long for their captivity in Egypt. This didn’t sit well with God (to put it mildly). God demanded trust and so does Jesus when he calls you to follow.

When you begin to follow Jesus but keeping looking back at what you left, you quickly veer off course. Jesus words about the hand on the plow and looking back are poignant. If you are plowing a field, your eyes need to be focused on a fixed object on the horizon, otherwise your row will be crocked – every single time. You WILL go off course.

Jesus is the fixed object on the horizon – AND – is the one who walks by your side. When He calls you to follow, trust the fixed destination and the one who walks with you. When your eyes are firmly fixed on Jesus you will never, ever go of course. The course may get bumpy and scary and troublesome. But come on, people, it’s Jesus. He’s got this.

When you put your hand on the plow and move forward with Jesus, keep going and do not look back. I promise you, you will not regret it and will never miss what you left.

Now therefore, go…

Exodus 4:10–12 (ESV) ~ 10 But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Oh God,
through Jesus Christ,
You have called me.
You have called me to Yourself.
You have called me to a new life and to New Life.
You have called me to Go therefore to all nations…
You have called me to bring glory to Your holy name.
You have called me to things that scare the living daylights out of me.
You have called me to suffer in many ways.
You have called me to set aside my selfish desires.
You have called me to obedience.
You have called me,
an unqualified sinner,
to speak of You and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have called me.
Some days I just want to run away.
Some days I just want to say, “Send someone else“.
Some days I just want to hide.
When those “Some days” rear their ugly head,
Kick me in the butt as you did Moses.
Now therefore go…
And may I have the faith to trust You,
and rejoice in the certainty of Your plans.
Oh God,
You have called me.
Help me to go.

The Pastor -|—

Water Walker

I sit in the boat,
safe,
secure and
content.

I sit in the boat,
looking out,
waiting and
hoping.

I sit in the boat,
seeing Jesus
beckoning me,
and I shudder.

But…

we were not created to be boat sitters,
sight seers or
vacationers
in this dangerous cruise of life.
We we were created to be water walkers,
Faith seekers;
trusting Jesus.

Peter cried out to Jesus to walk on the water
and I sit by watching.
Beckon me to come,
Lord Jesus,
beckon me.
And may I keep my eyes on you, lest I sink.

Make me a water walker and not a boat sitter.
Make me a Jesus follower and not a Jesus spectator.

Oh Lord, Jesus,
I want to walk on the water with you.

The Pastor -|—

To Trust You

To trust You, oh God,
is to follow even though it looks like we’re heading for a cliff.

To trust You, oh God,
is to patiently wait for your timing and for me to let go of mine.

To trust You, oh God,
is to acknowledge that Your ways and thoughts are way above mine.

To trust You, oh God,
is to stop praying for what I want so I can seek Your will.

To trust You, oh God,
is to be fearless of this world.

May I always follow You.
May I always wait on You.
May I always trust You.
May I always listen to You.
May I always be courageous.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come

Amen

The Unknown is not Unknown

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]

A great nation (Israel) was encamped on the banks of the Jordan River. Their leader for over 40 years, Moses, is dead; the one who taught this nation God’s Law. Large and powerful armies are standing in the way of Israel. And now Joshua stands ready to succeed Moses. Large shoes to fill, to put it mildly. I think I would be nervous to take on such a calling, considering the unknowns that lie ahead. But God is encouraging and commanding Joshua to obey and to be courageous, for it is God that continues to go with them. None of what they have accomplished was due to their strength. None of their victories were due to their military might. None of the fear they put into other nations was due to their stature. Everything; all glory and honor, belongs to God. Therefore, God says, be strong and courageous. That alone was enough to encourage Joshua and make him a successful leader throughout his life. He feared and followed and obeyed God, and he encouraged and commanded the nation of Israel to do the same. God did his thing, Israel flourished and God was glorified.

Imagine what you can accomplish when you consider who is going before you. Imagine what you can do when you remember who has won victories on your behalf. Imagine what you can do when you remember who fights for you. When you are praying and living “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” then fear of the unknown is irrelevant.

But yet, when people are faced with the unknown, fear still creeps in and dictates their course of action. Human logic becomes their wisdom as they try to deal with the unknown and the fear that goes with it. But this is not the way of God. God alone deals with the unknowns for our unknown is not unknown to God. Think about that. Our unknown is not unknown to God. God sees the whole picture. By taking matters into your own hands or being paralyzed with fear is basically telling God that you don’t trust him. You are telling God that He does not know the unknown and therefore can’t handle things. This is an attack on God’s Sovereignty.

But God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not fear, for I am with you and will always go with you.”

Think about that. Consider this promise and command. Imagine what you could accomplish if this verse were always in front of you, I mean, imagine what GOD can accomplish through you if you actually trusted that God knows your unknowns. So,

Do not fear
Be strong
Be courageous
Be bold
Trust
Take that leap of faith

and let God handle the rest.

Oh God, I am thankful that You know my unknowns and that You always go before me. Grant me the faith to trust You and place everything in Your hands. May my courage bring glory to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Good News in a bad news world

News

Teen dies after ‘simple, common wisdom teeth extraction’

Mpls. police investigate fatal shooting

Teen charged with murder in toddler’s violent death

Man found guilty of attempted murder at party

Heavy rain from Bill threatens new floods in North Texas

Bad news, bad news, bad news; it’s all around us. And these are just a few headlines I found on the website of a local TV station. And as you look further out into world news, it doesn’t get much better:
~ ISIS
~ Wars
~ Terrorism
~ Extreme poverty/hunger
~ Genocide

Closer to home, your news may seem even worse:
“Your prognosis is not good”
“I want a divorce”
~ “Your position is being eliminated”
~ “There was an accident…”

And just reading those headlines makes me depressed. Sure, there are those feel good stories that the late evening news shows from time to time, but it’s not enough to numb the pain and heart ache that dominates the headlines. A story of a young child saving her mother, who was having a diabetic reaction, warms your heart and puts a smile on your face, but then a following story about ISIS seemingly takes that all away.

Bad news, bad news, bad news.
We need some Good News.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. [Psalm 112:7]

And then I read this verse from the Psalter; not afraid of bad news. Why? Because of the Good News that the psalmist has in his heart: trusting in the Lord.

The bad news that seems to dominate headlines (because for some reason that seems to grab more ratings) is only truly bad news if your hope is only in this world. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket; putting all your senior officers in one shuttle craft, then there is much to fear when all hell seems to be breaking lose.

But…

If your hope is in the Lord; trusting in His promises, then THE Good News (Jesus Christ) will dominate your headlines and snuff out that life draining bad news that Satan is trying to promote. Feel good stories are great and give us a glimpse of God working in the lives of people, but the ultimate “feel good” story is Jesus Christ dying for your sins and then rising to New Life that you may have the hope of the resurrection. And after the resurrection; no more bad news.

I like that and now I feel much better.
Joy has been restored.
Good News trumping bad news.

So…

Bring on the bad news, Satan, for you can not top THE Good News of Jesus Christ; for it is this Good News I will focus on and thus trust in my God.

Holy God, when bad news threatens to steal my joy remind me of the Good News of Jesus Christ; whereby my hope is placed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

The Call to Follow Jesus

[18] While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. [19] And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [20] Immediately they left their nets and followed him. [Matthew 4:18-20 ESV]

The call to follow Jesus is one where you relinquish control of your life and trust the One whom you follow; namely Jesus. It’s not a life where you call the shots. I was recently speaking with a group of young men when one asked me how long do pastor’s stay at churches. I responded, “That depends on God”. He smiled and agreed and that was the end of his inquiry. My guess is that he heard all he needed to know; basically, the call to follow Jesus is not one you get to control.

The call to follow Jesus is one of trust. You may not get the whole picture. Often times God operates on a need to know basis. The call may simply be to go to such and such a country or to such and such a town. God may not lay everything out in black and white but rather in a muddled, garbled mess; one that starts to make sense as you move along God’s path.

The call to follow Jesus is not necessarily one of worldly riches and comforts. And this is the one the gets a lot of people. I need to provide for my family. I have to pay the bills. So you may be hesitant to listen to God’s voice because you are afraid of what it might say (even though deep down inside you have been hearing it already).

The call to follow Jesus is one that may lead to friction in worldly relationships. Family may be upset that you are moving so far away or putting your family in a difficult financial situation or moving to an unsafe part of the world. Close friends may express sadness and maybe a little pressure to stay close. Some may call you crazy and think you have fallen off your rocker for “following Jesus”.

The call to follow Jesus is one of discipline and refining. God may bring a period of darkness in your life in order to draw you deeper in Him. God may be refining out impurities in your faith in order for you to minister in a new way. God may be convicting you of a sin that needs to be addressed in order for you to better glorify Him.

The call to follow Jesus is one of leaving peace of mind in order to bring peace to those in chaos.

The call to follow Jesus is one of Kingdom advancement; not yours, so therefore the hesitation for some.

The call to follow Jesus is one of great joy for those who place their complete faith and trust in God almighty through Christ Jesus our Lord. For when the Jesus follower does this it is because they know it’s not their knowledge or skills or wisdom or strength that will get them by. It’s God and if God is for you then who could possibly be against you?

The call to follow Jesus takes prayer, patience and persistence. Prayer in order to receive your true marching orders; patience to wait on God’s timing; and persistence to keep at it during periods of darkness and difficulties.

The call to follow Jesus is one of fishing for people so the nets of God’s kingdom are filled to overflowing and then some. Those first disciples had no clue what Jesus meant by “fishing for men” or how to go about doing it. They simply responded to the call to follow Jesus and trusted him. And you know something? They did it and the net continues to be filled.

The call to follow Jesus is a call to participate in God’s plan of redemption and God’s plan is NOT going to fail. So drop your nets and go. Follow Jesus wherever HE goes.

Holy Father, You have called me to follow You. You have called me to faith. You have called me to share the Gospel through Word and deed. You have called me to obey. Grant me the faith to listen and follow that you may continue to be glorified. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—