When everything seems to be changing

Have you ever felt that stirring in your heart that seemed to indicate that the Lord was changing the way you thought or felt or reacted to certain things?  Sometimes it can feel like your entire soul is in upheaval during the process.  I have been living in this condition (more or less) for about two years.

I have wondered what it all meant.  Why was I so restless?  I would tell the Lord in prayer, “If You would just tell me what this is all about, and what it is that You want me to do, I’ll do it”.  It was a sincere prayer that I thought I meant.  However, now that He has begun showing me what all these stirrings mean I realize that I was not ready to respond.  For the past two years He has been working in my heart to get me ready for this.

Not long ago I was reading the story of when Jesus called Matthew the tax collector to be His disciple.  It says in Luke 5:27-28:

“After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office.  And He said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.”

My attention was drawn to what seemed to be an unusual word order in verse 28.  If I was telling the story I would have written it like this:  “So he rose up, left all, and followed Him.”  After all, don’t you have to actually get up before you can leave something?

But I think the Holy Spirit wanted to show me what He has been doing in my heart for the past two years.  Before anyone can truly rise up and follow Christ, there has to be a leaving all that happens in the heart.  Our possessions possess us.   The familiar gives us a sense of security.  Having something of our own allows us to feel independent.  And all of these things need to be stripped away.  For Christ would have us be possessed by Him, and find all our security in Him, and depend upon Him.  But we are so tethered to this world, that unless He loosed us from these earthly shackles we would spend all our life desiring to rise up and follow, but never actually able to do it.

He has been in no particular hurry with me.  Two years seems like an eternity to me, but the Lord has been willing to take this long to do such a work in my heart.  He hasn’t asked me to leave my home and family, or to sell everything I have.  But I do believe now (as I did when I was first born again), that this life of mine is no longer mine, and I cannot expect that it will be lived in a way that the world calls “normal”.

There is a battle, and for too long I have watched it from afar, fearful of the danger.  But I have discovered that the safety of my hiding places is only an illusion and could possibly be the most dangerous place of all.

I thank the Lord for His patience with me and for His loving kindness and for the great blessedness there is in being a follower of His.  And I look forward to what lies ahead………

All my livelihood

The word of God is a living word that speaks to my life.  When I slow down and listen, He speaks to me through it.  And many times He confronts and challenges me with it.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I was reading Luke 21:1-4:

“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.   So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all, for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

It is as though Jesus is contrasting two different kinds of people.  Both groups are at the temple.  Both groups are giving to the Lord.  But one group gives God gifts and the other gives God themselves.

The word “livelihood” caught my attention.  It is the word “BIOS”, which means life.  This widow gave her life.  She kept back nothing for herself.  She had no way to sustain herself or to meet her own needs.  She was utterly cast upon the Lord.  This kind of giving is uncomfortable….fearful even.  But sometimes it seems that there is no alternative.  The working of God upon the soul will bring us all eventually to the settled conviction that it is unreasonable and even impossible to continue with life as is.  All must be laid on the altar, tossed into the treasury, placed at His feet.

Have you ever felt that way?  What is one to do when it seems that God is requiring a surrender of everything comfortable and familiar for…..something unknown, unrevealed and almost certainly unexpected?

Surrender.   For the servant of the Lord is there really any other answer?

One time I saw this man….

I was a new believer (saved just over one year) and I was driving to work.   There on the corner at the intersection of two busy streets I saw him standing.  It was not a place where you would expect someone to be standing because there were no sidewalks and no foot traffic in that area.  Thus he stood out.   I wondered what he was doing there and as I drove nearer I could tell that he was saying something so I put my window down so I could hear.   And what I heard was the sound of the gospel being preached.  I was so moved that I cried the rest of the way to work.

Others saw him that morning and labeled him as some crazy man.  My eyes had seen something different.  I’ve never forgotten him.  It was a very short time later that I had the opportunity to be involved in street ministry here in Baton Rouge and also in downtown New Orleans.   It’s been over 10 years ago, but the memories of those times are precious.  As I have been reflecting over this time in my life recently, one thing that I remember so clearly is that all of life was centered on Jesus, and in a very natural kind of way because we were daily sharing the gospel.  There was no need to continually turn the heart back to Jesus, because it dwelt there.

I love Jesus, and I want my life to be lived before Him in such a way that He is glorified in it.  Maybe it’s inherent in my personality type (or maybe just the fallen nature of man) but even such a spiritual desire has led me to selfishness.  A spiritual selfishness that is always looking inward in self examination, many times to the exclusion of looking upward and outward.  But God has begun to stir my heart concerning these things….and I am looking upward and looking outward and waiting to see what He will do.

No shame

Each day I check a national and a local news website to keep up on major world and state events.   I’m just about to the point of leaving this practice.   News coverage of recent disclosures of inappropriate behavior by some in the political world have left me reeling.   Why is it necessary that there be all the racy headlines and pictures of a man who has been humiliated before the world?  I hear the people in my office making jokes about it, but I have yet to find the humor.

Jeremiah 8:12 says this: “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush.”

We are a people that has forgotten how to blush.  We glory in our shame.  We feed on it and crave more.  We find our entertainment in things that are a stench in the nostrils of God.

I do not exclude myself from this number.  All of this has brought me face to face with the revelation that I have more of this in me than I want to admit.  And I hate it.

May the Lord stir his people to a holy hatred of sin again, and a refusal to be entertained by it.  Our time would be much better spent in seeking the face of God that we might be delivered from the flood of evil that is overwhelming our country.  God help us all to wake up to the hour we are in.