Blind Faith Begs

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”  Mark 10:52

It’s a tough life to understand.  We see them everywhere we go — in the city, in the suburbs, at train stations, bus stations — pretty much any place where crowds gather you’ll find a beggar.  Someone who resorts to asking others to meet their needs.  Often it’s requesting money or food, but sometimes it’s for things like a warm blanket or cigarettes.  Never, though, have I ever seen someone ask for healing.  Nor have I seen a beggar shunned and lowered by disrespect.  But that’s not the case with Bartimaeus.

Bartimaeus has begged his entire life on the streets, blind, listening for the Messiah.  Bartimaeus had a blind faith that one day he would see.  He waited.  Until that day, as an adult, he heard a crowd leaving the city.  His ears heard, his heart knew the sound of his Master’s voice!  Discouraged at the chance of missing this opportunity he desperately made himself known.  He screamed, made quite the ruckus.  So much so that many in the crowd rebuked him and told him to be quiet.

Jesus heard his passion, saw his devotion and knew his heart.  Stopping and turning, Jesus asked the beggar what he wanted him to do for him.  And without a hesitation he calls him, “Teacher, I want to see!”

It was at that moment, Bartimaeus cast his eyes for the first time upon something — the face of the Savior — and saw!  And, without question, he followed Jesus out of the city!  Followed Him!

My Lord, begging has never been something strongly favored in my eyes.  But Bartimaeus’ life was filled with the faith, through begging, that leads to transformation!  While I know you intercede to the Father on my behalf, I also pray that my heart will see what my eyes cannot, trusting in the powerful transforming cocoon of waiting.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.  Acts 3:16

Courage Of Birth

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:38

I’m not pregnant — can’t be really.  There’s a reason God designed women to bear children and men to faint while it happens.  There is an indescribable strength in women with which men simply cannot compare.  It is truly remarkable.  It engages a level of courage, as Mary quickly resolved, that requires a level of letting go and marvels the most humble.

And while us men can’t bear children (Thank heavens!!), there is another seed planted deep within all of us . . . waiting to be nurtured, waiting for birth.  Is there courage?  Courage happens when I let go and step onto the ledge of life, away from security.  While thinking about this concept I couldn’t help but be reminded of Little Nemo.  I know, silly, but I’ve watched it a hundred times I think.  Remember the scene . . . Nemo is with his friends, scurrying around the reef when suddenly they reach the edge.  They express the danger of leaving the reef, open waters are not safe.  But Nemo disregards the danger and swims to touch the “butt” — boat.  Nemo let go and swam away from security.  Courage!

That seed within me has been planted in the womb of my heart.  It remains there unstirred until God is awakened within that place where my gentle uprooting occurs.  And as that seed grows through true fellowship with Him, it feeds the soul and begins to birth the spirit of the man God designed.  Do I fully understand or have I fully given of the womb of my own heart?  Have I prepared that place of darkness, discomfort and true surrender required to give full birth to the Christ-self within me?  Is it possible this is what Peter meant when he wrote in II Peter 1:4, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature . . . “?

The courage of birth is a miracle in itself, but where there is such courage there lies the recipe for being and becoming possible.  It takes courage to step into that place where change resides.  It takes courage to step into that chrysalis.

Here is a simple prayer from a favorite author:

To be fully human, fully myself,
To accept all that I am, all that you envision,
This is my prayer.
Walk with me out to the rim of life,
Beyond security.
Take me to the exquisite edge of courage
And release me to become.

Jesus looked at him and loved him, “One thing you lack,” he said.  “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  Mark 10:21

Inside The Chrysalis

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”  Psalm 130:5-6

I remember as a child, during the sweltering summers of the Florida heat, when an occasional mosquito would find it’s way in my bedroom.  Without air-conditioning the windows were extended as open and wide as they could stretch in the event a slight breeze may catch the sill.  The screens did their job for the most part, although I found it strikingly remarkable how the mosquitoes could find the four or five BB holes left there from . . . well, what else is a boy to do when he’s sent to his room and he has a BB gun?  The nights were hot and very sticky with that humid Florida air.  I begged most nights for that breeze!  With no hope of relief I fought hard to drift to sleep.  But the mosquito knew exactly where to find me!  Worse, he knew exactly where my ear was in which to announce his presence.  This sound, this buzzing sound was and quite frankly, still is, the worst noise in the world!  My only hope, my only escape was to retreat.  Despite the heat, the sealed, fortress-like fabric of my sheets were the perfect cover.  I pulled and tucked myself in and under the covers until I could barely breathe.  Inside the chrysalis.

Time has no measure inside the chrysalis.  Jonah spent three days in his, the Hebrews spent forty years in theirs.  Life is full of cocoons, both big and small.  But life inside the chrysalis is never easy.  It appears lonely, and may include a sense of abandonment.  After all, a caterpillar never shares his cocoon with another.  The journey inside the chrysalis is the second phase of a threefold process God uses in soul-making.  The life inside the chrysalis transforms!

The author, Sue Kidd says, “A creature can separate from an old way of existence, enter a time of metamorphosis, and emerge to a new level of being.”  Transformation happens!

Lord Jesus, it is dark, it feels lonely, and it’s hard to see what is happening inside the chrysalis of my life right now!  I ask you to work the clay, whittle away from my heart that which does not look like the man You called me to be.  And while I wait and put my hope in your word may I be attentive to the call, sweet whisper of your Spirit within.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  II Corinthians 5:17

The One Big Mistake

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Yesterday, my son forgot his lunch for school.  Oops!  That didn’t turn out so well for him.  A costly mistake!  Luckily his older brother felt some compassion and shared a portion of his with him.

How many times have we made the trip into town for an errand, only to realize we left the bag of stuff to return to the store just next door was left at home.  Oops!  That’s gonna require another trip.  A costly mistake!

When was the last time you decided not to lean over your bowl while enjoying some nice hot soup?  Oops!  That’s gonna need a stain-stick!  A costly mistake!

It’s not so unusual for at least one adult member of the family to push the indicator light on the gas gauge.  Oops!  That’s not gonna end well.  A costly mistake!

Those are examples of the many mistakes we commonly make throughout not only our day, but life.  The consequences are expected and not that drastic.  We kick ourselves with words like, “Are you kidding me?” and “How could you have been so dumb!” and “What in the world was I thinking?”  We even recreate an alternative ending in our minds by recusing our actions by saying things like, “I should have . . .”  or “I could have . . .”  or “I would have if only . . . ”

My life, like yours, is filled with a bunch of these “little” mistakes.  In most cases, turning around, making another trip or learning a lesson and changing are simple solutions to these daily misfortunes.  But life dishes out some game changers too.  You may know what I’m talking about — those mistakes that alter the course of your life, bring disaster to you and others, they hurt, rob and destroy.  They bring regret to a whole new level.

However, regardless of my many minor mistakes or major mistakes, my God is with me.  Today this is true: I know not what God will do, but God will do!  His presence is with me always and I must not forget that God is in control of my life.  Whatever experiences I have today, He has them with me!  He will restore through my mistakes!  It is true that my decisions can bring disaster into my life — and others — but God is the only one who can keep the disaster from destroying me!  “Lord Jesus, do not allow me to try and take control because I will make a mess of it.  I cannot meet life today without you!”

The ONE big mistake I can make today is forgetting you in the struggle around me.  I must not . . . MUST NOT . . . make that mistake today!  I must rest in you today!

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him for God is our refuge.”  Psalm 62:5-8

Broad Shoulders

As a part of my study yesterday I read a post from one of the blogs I follow from Scotty Smith out of Nashville, TN.  It was though this prayer was written for me.  I wanted to share it with all who read my blog in that you may learn too of the broad shoulders and loving heart of Lord Jesus.

I am posting it below, but if you would like to learn more about the original author, I have placed a link to his blog here.


A Prayer about Jesus’ Broad Shoulders and Loving Heart

     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isa. 9:6-7

Dear Lord Jesus, knowing the government of the whole world already rests on your shoulders profoundly humbles me and gladdens me. It fills me with a joy second only to knowing your shoulders fully bore the sin of the world, including mine. As this day begins, I raise my shoulders and face to bask in the radiance of your glory and the wonder of your grace.

Lord Jesus, in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You are Wonderful Counselor. I look to you for knowledge of great mysteries and insight into things eternal; but you’re also the one to whom I look for counsel on handling fresh disappointments, dealing with old hurts, and stewarding unfulfilled longings. You care about everything.

Lord Jesus, you uphold all things by the power of your Word. You are Mighty God—the one who created and sustains the entire universe by the power of your word; the one in whom all things are being summed up. You’re also the one who gives me power to humble myself when I’d rather stay proud, and strength to boast in my weaknesses when I’d rather be self-sufficient. You are Lord of all things.

Lord Jesus, to see you is to see the Father. To know you is to know the Father. In this sense you are Everlasting Father. You care so tenderly for the needs of the world—even the flowers of every field and the birds in every sky; but you also care about me. You didn’t leave me as an orphan. Through your work, I’m not only declared to be righteous in God’s sight, I’m able to declare God as my Abba, Father. You bear all my burdens.

Lord Jesus, no one else can pretend to be the Prince of Peace, for you alone paid the price of peace on the cross. Even as you are presently “shaloming”—bringing the increase of your government and peace to all things, so you are advancing the reign of your grace in my life. Forgive me when I look for wholeness, contentment, and healing somewhere else, for it cannot be found except in you. You don’t just give me peace, you are my Peace.

For your broad shoulders, big heart, and coming kingdom, be glorified, O blessed Messiah and Redeemer. So very Amen I pray, Lord Jesus, in your matchless and merciful name.

Down For The Count

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  I Corinthians 8:37

Becoming a man who lives his life defeated auctions the birthright of ownership for himself over being owned.  It’s the difference between allowing the perspective I have of my life to determine my direction and living, not in defeat, but victory.  Those things look so different.  The trouble is while walking the streets of life we often follow the most attractive down the alleys of destruction only there to find ourselves sulking under the trash of our past.  Is that really what it’s all about?

Mohammad Ali took a few hits for his time.  Agreed?  Unfortunately, we can witness the ill effects of the battles he fought only to face his greatest yet in life.  No doubt there were moments when he got knocked so hard that many, himself included, thought he may be down for the count.  Getting up from defeat takes strength and humility beyond measure.  Either in a boxing ring or the ring of life it is still the same.  The famous and memorable character Adrian, in the Rocky movies, was famous for his no compromise attitude as Rocky lay on the mat bloodied and bruised.  Adrian yells over and over, “Get up!  Get up! Get up!”

I know I have felt slapped to the mat, defeated, bruised and bloodied and I have waited for someone to come, clean my wounds, help me up and tell me it’s all going to be just fine.  And while there’s definitely a need for this kind of love for one another (Love your neighbor as yourself . . . Romans 13:9), it is temporal and unpredictable.  This kind of dependence on man reminds us how lonesome the ring can be at times.  There’s no one yelling, “Get up!”

This is defeat at it’s finest.  And the Savior I serve ate defeat for breakfast – lunch – and dinner!  Last I checked, I serve a RISEN Savior who conquered death and the grave!  And when life slaps me to the mat bruised and bloodied, hopeless and helpless, my Savior is there and He says, “Get up! Get up! Get up!  Since I live in you — you ARE victorious!  Get up!”  We are never down for the count!

Thank you Lord for the victory we have in You!  We are more than conquerors and can get back up when we get knocked down because You already won!

“But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  I Corinthians 15:57-58

Hide And Seek

By Ken Boa

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9 NIV

Everyone has experienced the cycle of sin and shame. It’s a dreadful place to be, a box canyon with three sides going straight up. We enter by way of sin, and wouldn’t dare to look for a way out since we don’t think we deserve it (and we don’t). And if we hear the sound of someone passing by, we can’t even call out for help. To do so would presume that the person wants to help us (adding presumption to our sins). We know no one could want to help one such as us (which is not true, but it is what we think). And so we hide in our canyon of shame.

There is only one way out of our shame, but we often can’t see it. The way out is to simply say what we have done—confess it to God—so that we may receive his forgiveness which is always available. And yet we are usually too ashamed to lift up our eyes, much less our voice, to him. So what does he do to get us to speak? He seeks us out. In our moment of need, when we are hiding from him, he comes looking for us—and he speaks first. Without our even knowing it, he changes our confession to a conversation.

God did this first with Adam and Eve. In the perfect Garden of Eden, the first couple sinned. Hearing God approaching in the garden, they ran and hide themselves among the trees. Did God see them? Yes. Did he know what they had done? Of course. Was he gently willing to allow them to tell him in their own words rather than accusing them directly and deepening their shame? That’s exactly what he did. By rhetorically calling out, “Where are you?” God drew Adam out from his hiding place. Seeing the patience of God, Adam released himself from shame by confessing his sin to God.

Is your identity today “Ashamed”? It need not be. Know that God is walking in your garden seeking a conversation that leads to confession, and freedom. If you lift your eyes, you will see him. If you lift your voice, he will hear you. He seeks you for only one reason: To find you and set you free.

God’s Promise to You: “When you hide, I see you and will seek you out.”

Screaming For A Savior

“Three times I pleaded with the lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”  II Corinthians 12:8-9

In speaking about the need for a savior our minds immediately bend towards the life changing and spiritual exchange of salvation.  But this is not the reference of my thoughts today.  Paul, in his discourse to the Corinthians discusses what he refers to as a “thorn in the flesh.”  While many scholars are not certain as to what exactly this was, one thing is true — it drove him nuts!  His plea was not for a spiritual exchange, this event already took place in Paul’s life.  He was looking to be rescued from whatever followed him day and night in torment.

I know if I were to sit down and begin writing a list of things that bug the dickens out of me, it wouldn’t be long before I’d need a new sheet of paper.  But, as the list grows, one or two of them would dominate the page and rise to the top of the list in how severe they impacted my life.  Apparently, it did the same for Paul.

Kids are funny and do some of the darn’dest things sometimes.  Their worlds are so limited and small.  Oh, this is a great thing, both for them and any adult in their midst.  I envy their small, simple lives.  But, anything that disrupts the harmony of their world:  a missing “binky”, not the right food, too much sweet tea before bedtime, not enough sleep, a skunk under the house, someone else playing with “their” toy, getting dressed in the morning . . . and the list goes on, sends them into a fit of overly expressive opinion.  They’ve got a plan of how life should be and when it’s not like that then the world knows!

As adults, I find my relationship with God isn’t too far off from the same thing.  But instead of being overly opinionated about what might be considered “small things,” I’m extremely vocal and demanding over the circumstances in my life that measure extremely critical according to my scale.  What is it with that?

I’m all the while asking and asking again, pleading none-the-less, for God to deliver, change the course, answer a prayer, make a wrong – right, do this, do that, on and on and on.  It never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, in the midst of pain, sorrow, hurt, crisis and grief that God may be saying, “Even though this stuff stinks, I hurt too, I feel the pain too, it makes me sad too, I understand your desperation, I know your loss too!  Even though your life is spinning, all I want you to do is wrap your arms around me, hold on tight and in this time when you are weak — through me, you WILL BE strong!”

Paul pleaded three times for God to deliver him — rescue him — save him from his thorn.  And while God could have done this — remember He is God — He did not.  Instead, God reminded Paul that His grace was sufficient for Him in this very difficult — distracting time.  That even in the midst of his circumstances, God would use him through his weakness, in His strength, and there find rest.

Lord Jesus, may I find rest in your strength!  As much as I would love for you to remove me from my personal pain and grief, I know that in it, you are strong!  May I boast only in my weaknesses, my difficulties, my crisis!

“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  II Corinthians 12:9b

by:  Mark Cruver

Le’go Of My Ego

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”  Proverbs 11:2

Letting go is so difficult to do.  Whether it be my favorite sweater, prized possession, loved one or my ego, letting it go takes an act of obedience and will at times beyond what we are able.  For me, the toughest has been my ego — my pride.  Recognizing the thickness my cloak of pride possessed simply bewildered and amazed me.  I wondered over and over how it was I could get to a point in my life where it became so significant to the relationships around me that I was unable to notice the brazenness of my arrogance.  How masterfully cunning the evil one had become.  But how intentionally blind I had allowed my own heart to grow in becoming numb to the Spirit.

Control of my life, my decisions, my journey — control is the key.  My pride says that I must be in control of all things, but God has made it clear that I am nothing without Him.  He wants full control of my heart and my life.  A complete surrender of all things.  Truly a white flag moment!

So, the only one hanging onto my ego, the only one palming my pride – is me!  Let go!  Let go and let Him!  He will . . . (fill in the blank).  He always has, always will — He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Lord Jesus, I’m so glad you are in control of my life.  Surrendering daily to you in obedience is an act of faith — both because of who you are and who I am in you!  Teach me to recognize the heavy burden of pride I tend to place on my shoulders, that falsely makes me feel better about myself — teach me to live in the humility of your grace and trust in the power of your resurrection.  My value, my worth comes from you — the Author, Finisher and Controller of my life!

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”  Proverbs 29:23

by:  Mark Cruver

Pride and Prayer

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want . . .”  Psalm 23:1

Pride has a huge component that involves control.  If I must give up control, I’ve got to lay down my pride to do so.  The illusion in life is that we are in control of anything — when in fact, we have little control.  And when faced with a moment of surrender, our pride fluffs it’s feathers.

I remember an area in my own life where this was rather evident.  But like in most circumstances when pride is flexing muscles, we rarely notice it until after the fact.  Driving the family around was always a test of my pride.  It was rooted in the need to be in control of the vehicle — laced with a lack of trust and dependence, I all but demanded to be behind the wheel.  I felt too out of control if I were to sit in the passenger seat while my very capable, precious and lovely wife was in the captain’s chair.  It made me uncomfortable, unsettled, uneasy, restless, on edge and I would make noises to indicate my feeling in danger.  How absolutely absurd is that?  Exactly — it was my pride getting in the way of my prayer!

All too often we negate the role of the Shepherd in our daily journey with Him.  The role of the Shepherd is one that exemplifies a measure of love for me that when truly understood and believed gives me worth and dignity.  It means I have great value!  Value is obtained through worth and recognizing that through the Son I surrender.  It’s an act of obedient surrender, bowing before my Lord in ushering Him into my life, my decisions, my questions, my uncertainty, my crisis!  It’s an act of stepping out of the driver’s seat, allowing Him to sit on His throne and take me places I’ve never dreamed of going — trusting faithfully in the Shepherd!

So, what keeps me from bowing before my Lord?  My pride!  It’s the big bully in the room every time.  It’s the thing that keeps me from speaking to God when I’m driving alone in my car, it’s the thing that keeps me from considering others better than myself, it’s the thing that keeps me from praying!  Pride has no place.

My God has created me to fellowship with Him — both in joy and sorrow, both in victory and suffering.  I must cast off my pride and fall to my knees in prayer.  I have no control — I give Him full control!

Lord Jesus, it is you that has me in your palm.  Extend to me your wisdom in knowing that through faith, I am capable of many things, but in control of nothing.  Remind me of the power in prayer and the prison of pride.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  Psalm 23:3

by:  Mark Cruver