Journey or Destination Part 1 The STAR

Dutch Windmill
Dutch Windmill 2016

Journey of Destination? part 1

THE STAR

It was a long time ago. But I can still remember.

 

My parents and brother were gone from home. Watching the house and the dog, I must have been 20 something years old when the NEWS crushed my world and called my whole existence into question.

 

Earlier that year, my family had been shocked by the murder of my cousin’s baby girl. She was not even one year old, found outside of the house, and drowned in a ditch.

 

Babies like that don’t get up and walk outside while her parents are taking an 8 minute stroll, walking the dog together. It should have been perfectly safe for 8 minutes alone in her perfectly safe crib inside her perfectly safe house. Instead, someone came in, took her outside, dropped her in a ditch, and left her to die.

 

It had shocked our family.

 

Shortly after the girl had died, Jack helped me find a way to understand that perhaps her story on earth was fulfilled. Perhaps there were things God saw in her future we could not yet see, but God thought it better for her to come Home to Him. She would rest in His peace.

 

The biggest shock came a few weeks later. I was alone at the house when I heard the news. The woman who was supposedly responsible for the murder of my cousin’s baby was being set free by

the Justice Department because of lack of evidence. She was known to be ‘confused’ and there was a pretty clear vision of what had happened that night, but not all of it could be proven. So she was set free.

 

Hearing that news sent my head spinning and my heart crying out!

d-field-morning

HOW?! How could this be? How could this young life end and this woman not pay for it? What kind of justice is that? What kind of

God would let someone get away with something as unforgivable as this!!?

My anger demanded some kind of punishment, some kind of justice, some kind of sign that God was Watching this! and Judging! DOING something!!!

 

To hear of this woman being set free, was just one shock too many for my fragile faith. This was not the God I had believed in for so long as a child. Not the righteous, just, and honest God who punishes the wrong and loves the right. If HE could not do something about this, who could?

 

I felt the ground fall from beneath me.  I was lost! It felt as if God had abandoned me. If He were not around, then what had I been believing in?

 

Perhaps my parents and brother were right after all, and it was all just stories that they told children in school. To my family, it was a mystery how I had kept believing in the stories from the Bible I heard in school. They did not believe there was a God, and I was feeling like my certainty, my childlike trust in this God I had heard about, may have been a mistake indeed!

 

I needed not call my family to talk about this. They would have answered “God is not real.” But I was not ready to accept that kind of an answer.

 

That evening, I had to show up for duty at the local radio station. I was to be technical assistance for a few program makers and then spent the last 2 hours playing non-stop music until the airtime was over.

I rode my bike over to the studio and tried my best to get through the first two hours without too much talking.

The second program maker left the studio, the board meeting had finished up early as well, and the station manager dropped by the studio to let me know that I would be the one to close up the studio for the night. I closed the door behind them, making sure I would not be surprised by anyone coming in that had no business being there.

 

And started playing songs. Just random stuff I pulled out of the cd boxes next to me. And while I did, I could feel my questions just keep on whirling around in my head.

 

WHY?!! Why would she be allowed to walk free when my cousin and his family would have to live the rest of their lives with this loss?

 

While closing up, wandering about in that old house built in 1875,that we used for a studio, I found myself crying.

Angry tears. And then whispering. Angry whispers. Talking. Urgently talking. Shouting. Screaming. Yelling. Angry words. Angry questions. Questioning God out loud. Telling Him how angry I was, how unjust He had been. How much He had let me down! How furious I was!

 

And then, after a while… how sad I was, how confused and afraid I was, how lost I felt, thinking about a world without Him. But also how difficult it was for me to still believe that He was still true, still around… if He would let stuff like this happen.

d-morning-closer

Ain’t it funny, how you can tell whether someone is listening or not? How you can tell the difference between someone listening to you or reading the newspaper, while hidden behind that newspaper…?

 

Alone, in the last room that was still lit, I sat down on the floor and realized that He had been listening. All the time. To my yelling. To my whispering, my shouting, my screaming, my questions, my doubt and my fear.

And that it was all right. But it was not. NOT enough. It was NOT alright! My stubborn mind needed proof! Because I had believed Him there before hadn’t I? In spite of what my family said, I had believed God was there!

 

And yet, He could not be. Because why would He let this woman walk free. How COULD He?!?

 

So if there really was a plan for this, if He really had this covered, and most of all, if He wanted me to believe that He was real, He was going to have to show me. And I told Him, it had to be rather obvious, because I was really not gonna go ahead and fall for “just anything” this time.

 

I sat there and waited, but nothing happened.       Nothing.    Well, beside the clock ticking on and the building getting colder from the heater being automatically turned off…

So I got up and finished the closing up. Numb and sore from my outbursts, I put on the alarm after cleaning up the last dishes, and locked the door. I turned around on the steps to the front door, to walk to my bike. The same steps I had stood on, so many nights before this one, doing the exact same thing.

And this time, I looked up and saw it. A HUGE star. Glittering like a diamond, almost as if saying

 

“Hello there!”

 

And all the way home on my bike, that big glittering star was shining ahead of me. It seemed to be there every turn I made, every corner I took. Staring me right in the eye. Right until I arrived home.

 

My sign from God that He is here. Everywhere. If I care to look.

I felt peace knowing that He would listen to me, and even answer my cry, however futile I may be in this huge world. That I mattered enough to Him to have that star shine brightly for me.

Now that I had proof, I had 2 choices. I could go insane trying to hold on to my control, my ideas of what justice is and what should happen.

Or I could give it up. Give up trying to understand what His reasons might be. Surrender my need to know, my need to understand, and trust in Him. No longer question Him, or His presence.

And that is what I did. I surrendered to Him. I didn’t have to understand anymore. I just had to believe. Trust. And surrender.

Sounds so simple, don’t it? It does when I write it down now. But that was only the first time I have surrendered to God. Because control is hard to give up. My need to understand is strong. I am proud enough to think I know a lot and curious enough to want to learn more. But to give up that pride, that need to know, need to understand… is one of the things that I have had to keep on doing on a conscious level or I would slip right back in to my questioning.

d-kerstkindje-glas-in-lood-1

One thing I have not questioned like this anymore, ever, is whether God  is real or not. Since that day, I have been sure of it. I have been talking to Him, although I hardly ever visit a church, although my family still has no idea why I am so certain of God. He has been there on so many occasions, if only I put my ego aside and care to listen to what He wants from me. Through relationship trouble, addictions, re-organizations at work, and depression, I have seen Him there. I have felt His Hand on my back, felt His Arms around me, felt Him listening, guiding me.

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for more of Geesje’s writing, see and like her blog:

www.StumblingTowardsTheLight.com

Jesus Commands Us to Make Disciples. Part 1

Church

Describing a local church’s outreach program, I once heard it defined this way, “We have a sign out front that tells when our meetings are. They will come in if they want to.”

 

Meaning, in my opinion,

  1. We are keeping the Great Commission.
  2. We built a church.
  3. We pay the church bills.
  4. We hired a preacher to do all the meetings and represent our church.
  5. If the preacher is good enough, our attendance and membership will grow and everyone will be happy.
  6. If we don’t like the way our hired preacher is helping the church grow, we’ll fire him and get another one.
  7. Good luck, Pastor!!
  8. This is what we want:Church

     

  9. My Question:  Is this what Jesus wants?

 

You may comment, if you’d like.

Launch Out Into the Deep and Let Down Your Nets For A Catch Part 4

Luke 5: 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

 

One Command from the Creator gave Courage to the Craftsmen.

 

Colossians 1:16 because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him.

 

Jesus, the Living Word, had created the fish Simon sought. The Voice that gave existence was giving a command that would bring significance to Simon and those of us who would listen.

 

Jesus, as usual, was not making a suggestion. The Maker and Master gave a command that could correctly be translated from the original language “Move your boat from where you are to where I want you to be, right now, without delay!” The options were simple as usual, to obey or rebel.

 

stain glass All Saints St Andrews
stain glass All Saints St Andrews

 

Simon tried to argue from his vast fishing experience “we never did it this way before.” Simon was obviously the expert on this shore. Simon had been successful enough to have at least 2 boats and leader enough to staff them. He was loud and proud. Stud of the Hood. The Boss.

Simon probably knew the difference between talkers and doers. I believe Simon would rather show a boatload of fish over fancy talk about legendary catches. Simon had been introduced to Jesus by his brother, Andrew. Jesus knew Simon’s Dad’s name and called him “Peter.” This Jesus deserved an honest shot at some real respect, but Simon was still fishing for fish.

Simon had been listening as Jesus spoke and knew this man was different. So he said, “Master,… at your word…” Simon made it clear that he didn’t claim any credit or blame on the results.

Jesus, as usual, backed up His Word with demonstration. Like Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 2:4, following Jesus example.

 

Big change was in the works. Jesus rocks boats and clears tainted temples. Be sure you’re on the right side of the argument.

 

To be continued….

Launch Out Into the Deep and Let Down Your Nets For A Catch Part 3

Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch Part 3

Luke 5: 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

crashing surf

Is Jesus welcome where you work? Not bums, but busy about their responsibilities, Jesus was looking for workers. Laziness is not a quality God desires in His harvesters. They weren’t passive either.

Simon’s simple perspective had him “washing the nets”. Simon’s team had not caught fish, but decided to be respectable about failing. There is a known rhythm in working and resting. Giving and receiving, praying and preaching.

Maybe it was “net repairing and washing” time of day. My pro fishing guide son can tell you that there are times of day that are better and worse for expecting to catch anything. Maybe the weather is more favorable some hours than others. Here in the Texas Panhandle, we expect the winds to pick up as the day goes on. Can you picture Simon throwing a net into the wind to have it blown right back into his face? We can.

My guide son ( http://www.ltdguideservice.com –shameless plug) will also tell you that fish move around based on the water temperature, wind direction, phases of the moon, etc. Maybe the hour determined the location of fish and feasibility of fishing.  Maybe there were avoidable dangers in the deep at this time.

Simon, the Pro, knew when to be on the lake and when to be on the shore. Jesus’ timing is no less than perfect, ever. Jesus shows up and uses a boat that was strategically at shore.

Then:

One Command from the Creator gave Courage to the Craftsmen….

 

To be continued….

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/luke/5.htm

Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch Part 2.

Luke 5: 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

empty boat on shore

 

Jesus was speaking to the crowd that had gathered within earshot. The crowds pressed in to “hear the Word of God.” Jesus saw some boats that weren’t being used, but belonged to Simon Peter. Jesus used Peter’s boat for a platform. The boats were for fishing, not showboats, but they were available. In cooperation with Peter, the owner of the boats, Jesus positioned himself to teach.

Friend, is your everyday lifestyle available as a platform Jesus can use to declare God’s Word to anyone close enough to pay attention? Are we willing to pause washing our dirty nets long enough to give Jesus a chance to speak? Do we have to finish cleaning the nets and tidying the boats before Jesus is welcome inside? Is there room in the boat?

If we aren’t close enough to hear the command, who moved?

 

To be continued…

3.31.16 Putting Them to Work

Putting Them to Work

 

Last night God answered another significant prayer as I was seriously seeking His direction. God is glad to do that if we are willing to obey no matter how it turns out.

I have been one to build a ship but fail to launch it. Always preparing, but not putting out the effort and risk to actually fulfill the dream. http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/seize-the-moment!1 this article by Rick Warren was very inspiring!

Oh, the preparation! I have gathered a mass of books, study materials, music in print, CD, cassette tape, instruments all for the “ministry that God must have in store for me someday.” Decades ago, during a move from one house to another, my oldest son remarked wryly “Dad, I think you like books!” looking at the pick-up truck full of boxes of books and recordings.

I remember showing my collection of commentaries and pastoral conglomeration to a young protege’. “If I had known that I wasn’t going to be preaching to large crowds on a paid church staff, I could have saved at least $10,000 in books,” I told him.

I can part with the books much easier than the guitars. I have many books in digital format now that don’t require a lot of shelf-space, dusting, or tidying up. But the guitars and amplifiers have required a separate room in our house.

A while back, I realized that God wanted what He had given me to be put to work. My guitar and book collection is much trimmer now and others are grateful, especially my wife.

Matthew 25:27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.

 

*Update: Since this time, I have been donating guitars in a raffle-testimony fashion. We set up a booth at a public event (if they allow us) and offer tickets on the guitar. To get a ticket, people listen to a 3 minute testimony. After the testimony, we draw a ticket and give the guitar to the winner!!!

We have seen responses to the Gospel EVERY time we’ve done this.

My guitars have been put to work for the Kingdom!

Praise God!!

Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch Part 1.

Luke 5: 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Four points:

  1. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon” Jesus had been speaking generally, then stopped to privately address a disciple close to Him.
  2. “Launch out into the deep” time for action! It’s deep and out of your control.  It may seem mundane because it’s a fishing boat, not a battleship or luxury liner set on a world cruise. But Jesus is in the boat. Maybe you expect to catch close to the shore like during the spawn, but there’s a risk of failure. Jesus didn’t say to study or remember others’ fishing patterns, buy a new boat (or guitar, ouch!), or even check the weather.
  3. “Let down your nets” Notice it is not “bait and switch.” No hidden hooks here! It’s more like planting seeds. Nets aren’t for collecting or holding onto. They don’t tear or need mending if you keep them safe and clean. Nets are easily managed if left in nice, quiet bundles just out of the way of foot traffic on your nice, pretty boat. Or hanging on your wall or even better, in the case under your bed!
  4. “For a catch” What do we expect? Fishermen expect fish. Farmers expect crops. Shepherds expect herds. It depends on how God made and prepared YOU.

TO BE CONTINUED….