Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fear Not

In the past week I've heard three messages from three different people all touching on fear.

Sunday, June 14th - Wm Paul Young

Tuesday, June 16th - Josh Lopez

Wednesday, June 17th - Pastor Earl McClellan

Gee, maybe I should pay attention!

The truth is that I have some fears I have been battling lately so these messages are very timely for me. I typed up my notes and decided to carry them around for a while. Thought maybe I'd share some thoughts.

Fear is a powerful emotion, I remember as a young girl dealing with various fears. I heard this verse from Job 3:25: What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. It was presented in a way that made me feel like if I was afraid of something I would make it happen to me! Holy Cow! Now, I'm not just afraid of stuff, I'm afraid of being afraid! How many of us have been slapped around with this scripture? Last night when I was mulling it over, I wondered is fear really THAT powerful? Was Job's fear the catalyst for his calamity? I'm just not sure. Perhaps if the story was about Job's fear, the introduction in chapter one would read more like this: Job was a scardey cat, anxious and nervous about loss, because of that, all this terrible trouble came upon him. In actuality God's introduction of Job reads like this: "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." God drew attention to Job's reverential fear of the Lord, not his worries.

There are hundreds of references to fear in the Bible. Why do you suppose? I think its because fear is a natural human response to life on the planet. God knows are frame, remember? He sees our propensity for fear. His response to us is beautifully reassuring:

Be strong, do not fear; your God will come Is 35:4

So do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,' declares the LORD. 'I will surely save you Jer 30:10

When I think back to the message I heard years ago about that verse in Job, it sounded like God would be more apt to say something like this..."Stop being scared you silly little girl! Just quit it! You're ridiculous!" But He doesn't, he says: Do not fear..... for I AM with you! (Jer 46:28) It is the presence of a powerful loving God in our lives that disarms our fear. If God is for us, who can be against us?

To fear is human...to Fear Not requires the Divine!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Bottom Line About Our Father

A few years ago my husband and I took the Financial Peace University class at Shoreline. We recently shared our experience with our church family on this video. We learned so much. It really changed the way we live and now I have a new friend…my spreadsheet. I just love it! Truthfully, I probably spend a little too much time with it but it is so great to have our money working for us instead of us working for our money. Anyway, it just thrills me when I look down there at that bottom line and see every column in perfect balance. It’s a great feeling!

So a while I go I read this scripture in Psalms and thought really, this is the most beautiful bottom line:

Psalm 62:11-12a
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord are loving

That’s it – that’s the bottom line. Our God is strong –mountains melt like wax in His presence. He spoke and the stars were flung in the sky. His strong arms are there to lift us up and carry us through whatever life brings our way. His very breath is life. He is all-powerful. Strong. Mighty. Awesome. God. Yet all that intense, wild power is guided by one thing – His love. Yes, He holds the universe in the palm of His hand but did you know that Isaiah 49:16 (AMP) says He tattooed a picture of you on the palm of those hands? Our God is strong AND He is loving. That is a crucial conjunction! Sometimes those two characteristics are difficult for us to combine as humans. We don’t often see strong men as tender but that is the picture here of our God. We desperately need His strength – we need his power to move in our lives but where would we be without His love? Think about a father who is strong but not loving – that would leave a huge gap – a need for acceptance, care and intimacy. What about a dad who is loving but not strong, wouldn’t that leave us craving a hero, protection and someone willing to fight for us? God is all of the above and so much more. He is the perfect combination of love and strength.

God thank you that you fought for me – you sent your son to lay down His life for me. That is the ultimate strength. Jesus, you endured the cross for me. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you Lord that you never leave me helpless or hopeless. My great big God moves on my behalf. Thank you God for your love – you love me just the way I am. You delight in me, rejoice over me – you like me! You made me to abide in you and to fill a part in this world that no one else can fill. That amazes me. Thank you for your love that not only comes to me but can also flow through me. Thank you God for the two things I know – that you are strong and that you are loving. I can take a deep breath and find real peace and true rest right here.

Special thanks goes out today to two wonderful Fathers:
My Daddy, Bernie Steffan and my boys' Daddy, David Cherry.
Thank you for lending us your strength. Thank you for the many times you've laid down your lives for your children. Thank you for the love you give that says we are accepted...we are enough...we are special in your eyes. We've learned beautiful truths about Our Father God through you and we are grateful. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who do you say?

In Matthew Chapter 16, Jesus has an interesting conversation with his disciples. He asks them a couple of questions, the first question is sort of an introduction to the topic...but it is the second question that really matters.

I have conversations like this with my kids. "How was school today?" That question usually invites a wide range of responses....."Cody got a red light today. Sarah was sent to the Principal's office. Trevor brought cupcakes for his birthday." All interesting details of the day. But I typically follow that with....So what did YOU learn today? or What color light is in YOUR folder. I don't mind hearing about the other kiddos in the class...but what I really care about is the life and times of the two boys buckled safely in my minivan!

It's the second question that really matters! Jesus asks "Who do YOU say that I am? Maybe Jesus was interested in public opinion...but what he really cared about is that his closest friends knew the answer to that question. Funny, really, that Jesus asked questions like this to begin with. As God he already knows all...the question and the answering is not for Jesus' ears.

I think Jesus is still asking this questions of his followers today....Lynn, who do YOU say that I am? What do you KNOW about me? What do I mean to YOU? I need to know the answer! And my ears need to hear it!

Based on Jesus' response to Peter, who spoke out on the coast line that day...his was a great answer. Not eloquent or deep just the simple truth of the Savior.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"
Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. Our Deliverer, Redeemer, Restorer! Isaiah 61 in the flesh! Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man...he chooses to humble himself and identify with our flesh and we embrace his humanness. But it is important that we recognize him as the Son of God. The lamb slain before the foundation of the world. The Son of the LIVING God. Not some dead idol that has eyes but cannot see, or ears that cannot hear. Our God is the God who sees! He hears. His arms are not short...they are STRONG! Able to lift us up out of the pits of life and set our feet upon a rock! A Living God who breathes life into the dead places in our soul. The Light of the world who shines in our darkness. The Almighty, Faithful God who says, I will never....NEVER....leave you, abandon you or forsake you in your weakness...I WILL BE WITH YOU!
Who do you say that I am?

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Thing

Ps 27: 4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

I've been thinking about this verse lately, and wondering, Is this really one thing? or is it three things? ....because it kinda sounds like three things, right?

Dwell in the house of the LORD
Gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
Seek him in his temple
Three things, not One.....maybe the Psalmist wasn't big on math :)

I am really challenged by the last thought...To seek him in his temple....the Psalmist expresses his desire for seeking...I confess, I am not particularly fond of seeking....I much prefer finding! As a mom, I am always seeking for things....a lost shoe, a favorite shirt, or the can't-sleep-without-it stuffed animal. Since our move, I do even more seeking than usual. Not fun. But in this verse the Psalmist is saying I ask, I seek: to seek. I have to stop and think about that. Selah.

I've bestowed upon myself a mom-title that I delight in "Finder-of-all-lost-things" . Somehow in my seeking, I typically do end up finding and it is the finding that makes me happy. I feel the same way about God's presence. I delight in those moments of nearness. Of finding. Of feeling: I'm not alone. God is here with me. Exhale. I've been convicted by this passage that often I am seeking an experience, I am seeking a feeling, hoping for God-goose-bumps. I do desire God's presence, his beauty expressed...but do I desire just the seeking? If I judge finding by feeling...by my goose-bump-gauge....then I'm not sure I always feel like a Finder.

As much as I love feelings, thank God for feelings, there has to be more. I think that is where faith comes in. We all know from reading the Psalms that there were times the author came up feeling empty...God where are you? I'm all alone here.....maybe that is why he seeks the seeking and not only the finding. (See Psalm 22, 42, 102) Faith says...never the less, and I will yet praise him! Faith looks to the future, faith keeps believing, keeps seeking.

So I keep seeking. But how beautiful to be able to say with the Psalmist: my heart seeks to seek!

I am comforted in believing that we are not doomed to a fatalistic open-ended search. Seeking that says "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." God made this beautiful promise to us, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (See Deut 4 and Jer 29) What a great truth to hold on to...you will seek me and find me...I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU! God is not giggling in some cosmic hiding spot we could never discover. He promises to be FOUND! I love that. We can know his presence, see his beauty!

Gee...that brings me full circle to David's one thing in Ps 27, probably as a poet, math wasn't his strong suit, but maybe it really is just ONE THING after all!