Monthly Archives: October 2015

Five Ways to Build to Last

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”  Mark 13:1-2

This is pretty amazing, when you think about it.  Jesus knew what is going to happen in the future.  The temple would be destroyed.

And this actually happened, in 70 AD.  There was a Jewish uprising, and Rome came down on the Jews in Jerusalem hard, with four legions.  There was a terrible siege, where the Jewish people starved, and finally the whole city was razed.

The destruction of Jerusalem

The destruction of Jerusalem

Josephus wrote, “Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage.  The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination. . . [Jerusalem] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.  . . those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way.”

Stones from the Western Wall of the Temple

Stones from the Western Wall of the Temple

This was the fate of the city, and the temple the Jewish people put their hope in.  It was the end of a way of worship for them.  To this day, Jewish people no longer worship at a temple, but in synagogues.

And this was only one of the trials Jesus foretold in Mark 13.  He said there would be false prophets, wars, and earthquakes.  Disciples would be arrested and tortured, even put to death, for their faith.  They would be betrayed by their own family members.

What was Jesus really getting at here?  He was telling them to be careful what they put their faith in.

And he was telling them that trials WOULD come.  All the things they thought were solid would be shown to be sifting sand.  All of the safety they felt would become turmoil.  They couldn’t depend on their government, their religious traditions, their loved ones.  Even the very ground would be unreliable.

Thus, it was true then, and it is true now, that it is vital to invest in things that LAST, that cannot be shaken.  Even though it feels solid, our world is no more stable than the world was then.  Tragedy can strike at any moment.  Trials WILL come.  Change will happen.

The storms of life can knock us off our feet.

The storms of life can knock us off our feet.

Our objective, then, should be to build our lives on things that really are solid.  What does this look like practically?  Here are some things I do that help me most to have stability for the long term.

  1. Seek God’s will.  Start your day by asking yourself, “Am I doing what I want, or what God wants?”  Ask God, “What do you want for me to do today?  Please put on my heart what is most important.”  SO many times God has answered this prayer for me.  I feel so strongly that one of the best Christian principles is, “whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24) The more we do things God’s way instead of our own way, the more effective our life becomes.
  2. Seek wisdomLearn God’s word.  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  Isa 40:8.  The Word is an instruction manual that helps us build our lives in the right way, so we’re not wasting our time.  Any time invested in reading the Bible, memorizing scriptures, is worth it.  But remember, wisdom is not just intellectual knowledge.  It is knowing how to act.  In the parable of the wise man who builds his house upon the rock, his stability comes because he hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice.
  3. Invest in your relationship with God.  When things fall apart, this is all you will have left, and if you don’t feel like you’re close to God, you’ll flounder.  Closeness with God is something you have to foster and maintain.  Satan constantly tries to separate us from God with things that consume our time and things that consume our thoughts.  Carve out time to really talk to God.  Get on your knees and bare your soul to Him.  Quiet yourself and listen to Him.  Walk with Him through your day.  Picture Him smiling as you serve Him.  Remind yourself over and over that God is what really matters.
  4. Remember that Christ died for you, personally.  No matter what happens, you have this.  Nothing can take it away.  God thinks you are so important that He gave his son for you.  Jesus thinks you are worth dying for.  He went through everything to rescue you, personally.  This really is something you can hold onto when everything else in life lets you down.   “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  II Cor 4:7-10
  5. Rely on faith, not feelings.  We can’t go up and down, depending on what our circumstances are.  One week we’re doing well as Christians because things are peachy.  The next week, everything falls apart, and we feel weak.  We have to remember that God is still the same.  He is our anchor.  We have to believe that He is a Father whose heart yearns to give us good things, because He’s so fired up for us.  Keep believing that better times are coming!  Don’t buy into Satan’s lies that everything is going downhill.  God got us through the last rough patch, and did amazing things, and He will get us through again, and give us even more!  “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  I Peter 5:10

I am writing all of this out of personal need this week.  My life feels out of wack.  My children are going through some significant challenges and changes.  My ears are so stopped up I’m out of it.  Inexplicable bad moods plague me.

It feels like the rug’s been pulled out from under me.  And it reminds me of how much harder it is to be yourself when things aren’t going as they usually do.

So I keep going back to the basics, losing myself in the comfort of my relationship with God, setting my face forward and believing over and over again that God knows the way through.

Let’s build to LAST!  Let’s put God, and Jesus, at the center of every thing we do.  It is the only effective way to live.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.  Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  I Cor 3:11-13

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Let us live with thankfulness, because we have more than the temple of the old covenant, a temple that could be toppled.    We have SOLIDITY, if we will only build on that, and not on self.  And then when things get shaky, we find His grace is sufficient, and we can hang on, if only for a moment, and then the next, because we KNOW we have something dependable to hold onto.

kingdom not shaken

And here is the really cool thing.  When we are still standing, in spite of the storms howling around us, we show the whole world that God is real and powerful.  Nothing else can make such an impact.  Our faith is real.  Christianity works!

Let me quote II Cor. 4 again, starting with the beginning of the passage:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

 

 

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Filed under Faith, Mark, Perseverance

When it’s Hard to Give it All

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

What was the motivation for the widow to give her last two mites?  I would guess thankfulness, and reverence for God.

And I think her motivation could also could be desperation.  The widow had no where else to turn but God. When we reach the end of our rope, we are willing to throw in the towel and give it all.

You know, it would have been so easy for this woman to justify not giving.  She had bills to pay.  She needed to eat.  Surely God would want her to take care of those things first.

But Jesus commends her for throwing her last two pennies in the till.

What was Jesus feeling as he watched her give?   He had just come to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey and being hailed by the crowd as a king.  But it was a challenging time for him.  He went in the temple and saw it was full of “thieves,”  so he drove them out.  He had religious leaders on every side trying to combat him with verbal tricks and arguments.   He remarked on teachers of the law who just cared about looking good.  He knew he was going to die, and told a parable about the son who came to collect the landowner’s money, and was killed by the tenants.

And then he saw this widow who was giving her all.  Maybe he related to her.  He was also giving his all.  He was also at the end of his rope.  He saw how evil the land was, how everyone was serving God in the wrong way.  No one seemed to get it.

Yet he knew he had come to Jerusalem to die for these people.  Jesus was throwing all his eggs in the basket of God, just as the widow was.

But Jesus was taking it even one step further.  He was throwing the eggs of ALL of us in the basket of God.  He was giving his life, everything he had. with the belief that it was the only hope for the people he saw, and the people yet to come.

And so he was willing to walk through the dark valley, right into death.

Getting back to the widow, some of us would ask, “How could God want her to give her last two coins?  Why would he require that of her?”

We could also ask, “Why would God require the Israelites to face trials in the desert where they didn’t have water or food?”  Or, “Why would Abraham be asked to sacrifice his only son?”

God wants to see if we will still give to him when things are tough, when we’re down to our last two mites.

The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is.  I Peter 1:7 GWT

So when things go wrong and craziness is raging all around us, will we still give, or will we hunker down, circle the wagons, and hoard the little we have left to take care of ourselves?

Because I’ll admit it.  I’m an ostrich.  I want to hide and lick my wounds, not stick my neck out and give more.  I get paralyzed by my fears.

I am so thankful that Jesus showed us the way through the valley, that Jesus still went forward, still gave, at the hardest time.

And now, when it’s scary, when the way is dark before us, we still go forward, putting ALL that we have into God’s hands, with thanksgiving, with reverence, and with faith that He will bring us through.

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Filed under Discipleship, Hope, Mark, Surrender

When It Is More Blessed To Receive

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”  Matt 12:38-40

I want to sneer at the teachers of the law — so self righteous, so self important!

But am I really that different?

The teachers of the law found their importance and significance in doing religious things for God.  I can be the same way.  I mean, I don’t steal from widows, but I can seek glory for myself.

I want so badly to be great, and do great things.  It’s like I’m always seeking to validate myself —  that I’m talented, that I have worth, that I’m not a lazy, good for nothing.  There’s this voice, that’s driving me on, “You’re not achieving enough.  You need to do more.”

And I can satisfy this voice by doing, and giving to God.

Well, let me take that back.  The voice is never satisfied.  It tells me there’s always one thing I could have done better.

Until finally, in wretchedness, I get on my knees and cry out to God for peace, for validation.

And He reminds me that Christianity is more about receiving, than giving.

Wait!  Doesn’t the Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive?

Yes, but this doesn’t work it we give from an empty tank.  Before we give, we need to open our hands and hearts and be filled by God.

Because God gives like a fire hose.

He is the one who forgives all your sins, the one who heals all your diseases, the one who rescues your life from the pit, the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion, the one who fills your life with blessings so that you become young again like an eagle.  Ps 103:3-5

The Lord gives even to the undeserving: “(He) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Matt. 5:45

Those of us who follow Jesus have yet more.  We have righteousness, continual cleansing from sin.  We have an advocate who is interceding for us and granting our prayer requests in his name.  We have the Spirit to be our constant helper.

We live in a state of receiving.   Day after day, moment after moment, we are given to far more than we can ever give.

And when I remember this, when I experience it, that restless voice is silenced.  I give, but I do it with the recognition that it’s not about me, it’s about God.  I serve, not out of need, but out of overflowing satisfaction.

I think that could be where the teachers of the law went wrong.  They didn’t realize how much God was doing for them.   And thus they had an unquenchable thirst for significance.

In the end, it really was a faith problem.

I tend to think of faith as belief in the existence of God and Jesus.  And then I think there’s super faith, this muscle I need to build to believe that that God will do amazing things.

But maybe faith also is the simple acknowledgment that God is working all around us.  Maybe faith is opening our eyes to what we already have, what we ARE receiving.

That is what the teachers of the law may have missed.

I can certainly miss it.  But I am learning that it is vital to not miss it.  The more I see what God is doing, the more I am empowered to do, and the more I have faith in what God can do.

As much as I love to serve, as much as I think Christian life is about service, for me, it will always be more blessed to receive from God, than to give.

What do you have that you did not receive?  I Cor 4:7b

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Filed under Gratitude, Mark

Six Practical Ways to Make Jesus Lord

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David?  David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:   ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’    David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.  Mark 12:35-37

Jesus is talking here about the Jews’ expectation of the messiah.  The teaching tradition was that the messiah would be a king who was a decedent of David.  The classic  prophesy of scripture they used involved God promise to David in II Samuel:

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  . . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”  II Sam 7:12-16

Jesus amazed them by pointing out scriptures that teach that the messiah would be called Lord, not just a leader.

This was a radical, life changing concept — for the people back then, and for us today.

Because you can admire a great king, you can pledge fealty to him.

But you don’t worship him.  You don’t see him as divinity. You don’t live in complete subservience to him in every area of your life.

It wasn’t the first time this concept had been introduced in the time of Jesus.  What did the angel tell the shepherds?

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”  Luke 2:12

The angel proclaimed it.  Jesus came to be God on earth.

And later Jesus would confirm it:

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”  Matt 28:18

The messiah would not just be a regent to pay homage to.  He would not just be a leader to follow.  He would be the Lord, to whom every knee should bow.

Today, can we treat Jesus as our leader, but not our Lord?  Do we want to follow him, but not bow down to him in every area of our lives?

Here are six practical ways to make him Lord:

  • Get up early enough to spend time with God.  Start your day with putting God first.  I have done this for 25 years, and it is an awesome blessing.   That doesn’t mean it comes easily.  Even after all this time.  I still have to battle for it, especially for a focused prayer time.  But making it happen makes every day go better.
  • Watch your tongue.  This is so difficult for me lately.  I have been feeling negative and critical, and I find myself saying negative things about others.  It feels like I’m teething, and I want to bite something.  I also catch myself loving to tell juicy stories about others that I wouldn’t want to repeat to their face.  I definitely have to guard my mouth.
  • Reach out to someone at least once each day.  Be outward focused and seek to connect with others by texting, calling, emailing, and even better, actually getting with someone.  Don’t just let social media be your interaction!  Don’t let your schedule get more important than people.  Love others as He loves us.
  • Submit to one another.   Married women, let your husband lead, regardless of his competence to do so, and TRUST that this is God’s plan.  I have been married 34 years and I KNOW this is the best way.  If you fight for your own way, you are fighting against God.  Everyone, married or not, submit to one another out of reverence for God.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Don’t have to have your own way.
  • Seek and save the lost.  I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs since I first started seeking God when I was 16, and I can state with certainty, life is always better when I’m making a concerted effort to bring others to Christ.  There is just something about changing someone’s life forever, and getting close to them in the process, that is the most fulfilling thing ever.  But doing this is also the HARDEST THING.  It really takes a conscious effort every day, every instance, to deny self and make Jesus Lord.  If you think it’s difficult for you because it’s not your gift, think again.  It’s hard for all of us.  But it will bring you the greatest blessings.
  • Fight for your heart.  I’m just telling you from experience, you’ve got to get in there and tackle this stuff.  Battle the bad attitudes that rise up every day.  Wrestle with your laziness and lack of motivation.  Don’t let moodiness control you.  All these things will arise, but don’t give into them.  Don’t let them be the status quo.  Fighting for your heart is one of those things that seem hard to do at the time, but believe me, it’s worse if you don’t deal with it.  Remember, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Heb. 12:15)  A bad attitude GROWS and messes you up, and also hurts others.

Today, people still think that the scriptures teach that God plans to build a physical kingdom through the nation of Israel.  If you’re interested in exploring what the Bible says about this, here is a great article.

But Jesus came to do much more.  He came to establish a spiritual kingdom, where he would be King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  (Rev. 17:14)

And his rightful place would be on the throne of our lives and hearts.

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Discipleship, Glory Above All, Mark

Being Centered

vine and branches

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.  Mark 12:28-34.

What’s the most important thing to do?  We ask ourselves that every day.   Is it the housework, the job, bringing in more money, preparing for retirement, doing community service, taking care of our family, getting our children to do well?  Our competing priorities whirl in our heads, and we just go forward, putting out the next fire.

Jesus says here that what is most important is to love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbor.

But what does that look like, practically?  Being regular in church attendance?  Trying to live a good life? Reading our Bible? Remembering to touch base with a friend? Having a neighbor over for dinner?  Volunteering at the food bank?

And how do we fit that into our lives when we have a demanding job, a family to raise, classwork to complete, a house to take care of, errands to run . . . not to mention a body to keep in shape!

I think the answer is in learning to be centered in God.

I’ve been reading John 15.  It basically states the same concept, that the most important things are to love God and our neighbor.  But Jesus words it here like this:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you” and “Love each other as I have loved you.” (v. 4, 12)

Remaining is being centered.  See how Jesus describes it:

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. . .

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. . . . .

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. . .

This is my command: Love each other.” 

When we are centered in Christ,  it’s our lifeblood to be connected to Him.  And then we are LOVED, and we LOVE.  It’s all bound up together.

Being centered is  like breathing.  We inhale Him as our sustenance. We exhale into meaningful action.

And when we are not centered, all our efforts, all the things we accomplish, are for nothing.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

Being centered is fruitful.  It is life giving.

I read a great article on the Sabbath by John Mark Comer on how the Sabbath was created to center and revive us:

“The Sabbath has a life-giving ability to procreate — to fill the world up with life. No matter how much you love your job or fine-tune your work/ life balance, by the end of the week, you’re tired. Your fuel cells are on empty. But rest refills us — with energy, creativity, vision, strength, optimism, buoyancy, clarity, and hope.”

This is a great concept.  But I would take it one step further.  Having a relationship with God, having unity with Christ, having fellowship with the Spirit, brings rest, and can refill us continuously throughout the day.

We remember God.  We make space for Him in our heart.  And in that place, the Spirit bubbles up in us.  We are refreshed.  We are inspired.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:37

So here are a few practical ways I’ve found to be centered:

  • Take a deep breath and remember Christ is in your heart.  Hold him close and dear.  Do this many times a day.
  • Pray for strength and guidance often.  It’s amazing how often I try to gut it out, instead of doing this.
  • Spend time on your knees.  Be quiet before Him.  After awhile, everything will fall into perspective.
  • Read through Bible verses, or recall verses you’ve memorized.  It feels like the scales are falling off of your eyes.  You remember what is good and true.
  • Go out into nature, smell the flowers.  You will see God’s face.
  • Listen to music that moves you spiritually.  It communicates deep truths.
  • Express your thanks to God in specific ways.  It’s amazing to me how helpful it is to keep a gratitude list and add to it daily.
  • Slow down and focus on each person as if they are the most important thing in the world.

This past weekend I wasn’t feeling well.   When I awoke Sunday morning in lowness of spirit, I went outside to lift my heart to God.   It was so comforting to stand in the back yard, listening to the hushed rush of the wind among the trees, feeling the damp cool air of fall, and thank God for what He has given me.  I didn’t want to petition Him for anything.  I just wanted to think of each person I love, each blessing I’ve received, and thank God for them.

I went back inside and read John 15.

And then I went to church.  This time, instead of  darting from person to person and thing to thing, I  immersed myself in the importance of each person.  And I felt the solid truth of it.  This was more vital than any “burnt offering,” than any of the busy tasks I could set myself to do to serve God.

I felt energy well up within me.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  John 15:11

Being centered brings joy and life on the inside.  It replenishes us in the places we’ve been depleted.

It is something we can do all through the day, no matter how busy we are.

It is how we live out what is most important.

It is the way we were designed, to be connected to God, and fruitful through Him.

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Filed under Mark, Peace, Relationship with God

Miracles All Around

Max and his fiancee, Elizabeth.

Max and his fiancee, Elizabeth.

Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.  Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children.  The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third.  In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too.  At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?  When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.  Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”  Mark 12:18-27

I am going to focus on one part of this story about Jesus being confronted by the Sadducees:

“Are you not in error because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?”

It’s sobering to think about.  Like the Sadducees, a person can be absolutely devoted to religion, and still not know the power of God.

Because the Sadducees were the fundamentalists of their time.  They only did what was in the Scriptures, the Torah.  They were often priests.  Their whole lives were about living for God.

Yet Jesus said they did not know the power of God.

How is this possible?  How could they miss it?

Maybe because they had their eyes on their obedience so much that this is all they could see.

It’s easy to do this.  I can relate.  I can get so caught up in making sure I’m doing the right things, that I’m blind to the fact that the focus has become me and my efforts, instead of God.

I don’t want to miss the power of God.

Because the truth is, He’s working all around us.  He’s working in people’s lives.  His working among the nations.  He’s working His will.

He is working miracles.

But do we see them?

I mean, look at the Sadducees.  They had the very son of God in their midst, healing the sick, yet they were blind to that.

Are we blind too?

Last week at House Church we each listed an impossible thing that we would like to see God do.  Of course, as we discussed each of these things, it did seem like there was no way that any of them could come to pass.

But then we remembered that each one of us is an example of God doing the impossible.  There is no way we would have given up our destructive habits and come to faith without God.

Mike drank too much, and was ruining his marriage.  Yet here he is now, a Godly man that many of us look up to.

Lorena was an atheist, yet now she leads the campus women.

I was stuck in insecurity, in selfish, prideful, lonely misery.  Yet now my life and my heart are full to overflowing.

The power of God is all around us.  See it.  He IS doing miracles.

And the greatest example of this lately is my son, Max.

Max got engaged this past weekend.

And somehow, the picture that pops up in my head is Max in fifth grade, complaining and resisting every attempt to do his homework, saying he couldn’t do it.  Every day after school was an ordeal.  It was like trying to hold onto a leprechaun.

Throughout his life at home with us, we did everything we could just to motivate Max to make decent grades — and I’m not talking A’s, I’m talking B’s and C’s.  I joke about it, but it’s partially true, that he became proficient on saxophone because he was grounded so much in his middle school years over his schoolwork performance, he didn’t have anything else to do but play his instrument.

There were other challenges as well.  As Max got older, I remember the agony I felt as I watched Max and his church friends go the wrong direction, and I felt powerless to stop it.  Everything I had done to try to set him up to win, all the good friendships I had encouraged, all the driving, all the church activities — it all backfired.

And then, it felt for us the like sun coming out after a long storm.  Max decided to seek God.  He got baptized.  It was wonderful.

Max applied for college, but his SAT scores weren’t high enough for the college he wanted to attend.  We paid a a lot of money for tutoring.  It worked.  Max got into his school of choice.  But even then, he wasn’t interested in academics.  He majored in music performance.  That was okay, at least he was in college doing something in which he excelled.

But then halfway through his freshman year, Max decided to quit going to church.  I can’t describe the rug-pulled-out-from-under feeling we had, the utter sickness.  We had to take it in stride, and believe in Max and his shining worth, even when he made choices we didn’t like.

So all of these memories were was going through my head as Max proposed, and my heart was in wonder.

Because the rest of Max’s story is a testimony to the power of God.

After awhile, Max saw that his life was bereft, and he came back to God.  He decided to studying nursing, and graduated as the very top student in adult health care.  He applied to Georgia Medical College, and out of a slew of applicants, he was one of the few accepted into the Nurse Anesthetist training program.

And now he has a fiancee, a wonderful young woman who can be a great spiritual partner for him.

God writes the best stories.

There IS power.  I see it, even though I am often blinded by the conceit of my efforts.

It is all around me.  I see it in Alyson, and how much she is changing as she studies the Bible.  I see it in the growth of our church through all kinds of challenges.

I am so profoundly grateful.  I am on my knees in awe that I could watch these things unfold.

And the more I see it, the more I have faith.

The Sadducees couldn’t see that there could be a resurrection of the dead.  They didn’t know the power of God, that something that improbable could happen.

We sometimes can’t see that God can do the impossible.  But the more we remember the miracles we’ve experienced, the more we open our eyes to the miracles that are happening all around us, the more we KNOW God and believe that there’s NOTHING He can’t do.

The Sadducees missed it.  I am transfixed by the wonder of it.

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