Be Still

lifeguard

In training to be a lifeguard, there are a few prerequisites.  First, you need to know how to swim. Second, you need to be fit.  Third, you need to want to rescue someone.  The training involves long hours of swimming, treading water, holding your breath, and practicing rescue maneuvers.  Even then, you will feel a little nervous when you go after your first victim.

The victim will usually be in the water flailing about for several minutes before the lifeguard reaches her.  She will be tired and extremely frightened.  When she sees help coming, she will grab and cling desperately to whatever she can reach, even the lifeguard himself.  So, the lifeguard will sometimes have to go in the back way, meaning, from the back of the victim.  He dives under the water, grabs the legs of the victim, twists and pulls her down under the water.  This accomplishes two things:  One, the victim gasps a big breath of air out of surprise.  Then, once under the water, the victim is disoriented and not sure what to grab onto. This allows the lifeguard to put the victim into a rescue hold with one arm under the victim’s arm and across her chest.  Then the lifeguard will support her head and bring her up for more air.

On the top of the water, the lifeguard will tell the victim to be still;  stop trying to save herself and let the lifeguard do the work. It is necessary for the victim to relax and not to fight with the lifeguard.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV) says, “The Lord will fight for you.  You need only to be still.”

Don’t fight the Lifeguard.  He knows what He’s doing.  He may have to pull you down to get you to stop trying to save yourself.  But He will hold up your head. He will take you to safety.  He meets all the requirements.  He knows how to swim in the sea of sin and degradation, He is eminently fit to be the Lifeguard, and He wants to rescue people like you.   “You need only to be still.”

What’s in a Name?

In his play, “Romeo and Juliet,” William Shakespeare makes the point thROSEat no matter what you call a rose, it will still smell sweet.  So, what’s in a name? Plenty!

My sisters and I used to get into a shouting match that usually degraded to, “Did NOT!” “Did TO!” “Nah-ah!” “Uh-huh!” Then Mom would step in and ask what the problem was.  One of the sisters claimed that the other was calling her names.  Hurtful names.  We usually spent quiet time in our rooms contemplating why it hurt people to be called names.

Biblical characters were given names that meant something, and some had name changes after they went through a critical turning point in their lives.  In fact, there is one name that the angels refuse to utter because of It’s import and power.  And this majestic, powerful Being promises to give you a new name when He comes to take you home with Him. (Revelation 2:17)

Meanwhile, don’t let the enemy give you names like, regret, defeat, unloved.  Remember you are a child of God!  Matthew West wrote a song called, “Child of the One True King.” Read part of the lyrics and KNOW that your name is precious to Him.

“I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life.
Hello, my name is child of the one true king
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
Amazing grace is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true king.
What a love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called his children
I am a child of the one true King.”

Keep Tightly Closed

Patient: It’s been one month since my last visit and I still feel miserable.

Doctor: Did you follow the instructions on the medicine I gave you?

Patient: I sure did – the bottle said ‘keep tightly closed.’Medicine_Jar_clip_art_hight

In John 8: 31, Jesus told them, “If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples.” and in verse 32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus said this to a group of Jews who believed in Him.  He had just finished telling them things they did not yet understand about His father, but He was patient with them and guided them with His words. He was about to open up the greatest news the world has ever known.  But He knew the tendency for his disciples would be to “keep tightly closed” the message they receive.  They were still thinking that the Good News was just for the Jews.  Today we know that the Good News is for everyone… every lost little lamb.

Inside that bottle of pills is the medicine for the patient to get better, if he would only open it up and use it!  Inside the Good News is the “medicine” we need for a sin-sick world, if we will only open it up and use it to help others!

Trapped!

Beautiful, yet deadly (if you’re a fly).  The Venus Flytrap grows in sub-tropical areas in the Southeast section of the United States in North and South Carolina. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap prepares to close, snapping shut only if another contact occurs within approximately twenty seconds of the first strike. Triggers may occur if one-tenth of the insect is within contact.  The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against wasting energy by trapping objects with no nutritional value, and the plant will only begin digestion after five more stimuli to ensure it has caught a live bug worthy of consumption.venus fly trap

Once trapped, the bug has very little chance of survival.

It reminds me of what my mom used to say, “Don’t play on the Devil’s playground!”  She meant that when we dabble into things we know are wrong, we run the risk of getting trapped into sin. The Venus Flytrap is not repulsive to the bug; actually it is very attractive and alluring. It smells like a perfect dinner to the bug.  It has beautiful colors to signal how desirable it is to its prey.  Our enemy does the same with sin.  He makes it beautiful and desirable.  Yet it’s a trap.  Once ensnared, you have very little chance of survival, except that Jesus is prepared to save you, and has made the way possible already, to escape.

Be smart.  Don’t play on the Devil’s playground.  But if you find yourself trapped, cry out to Jesus.

Explosion in the Print Shop

Dr. Arthur Conklin, once a biologist of Princeton University, wrote: “The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of an unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop.”

dictionary

What kind of value does that give the dictionary?  It was just an accident.  It can’t really be worth much.  Would you trust this dictionary to give you the right answers to your questions?  Me neither.

What kind of value does evolution give to a human being?  If it was just an accident, then it really can’t be worth much.  Maybe you’ve been told in subtle and insinuating ways that you aren’t worth much.  That’s just not true.  You are worth so much that the King of the Universe, who made you, is willing to die for you, and He did. He is waiting with outstretched hands to grab you from the pit in which you have found yourself.  “He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill.” (MLT 115)

Go ahead.  Grab His hand and take Him at His word.  Today.  Right now.

Pass it on

Mildred had lived a  life of hard work and sweet triumphs.  She had her sons and daughter to whom she had taught the value of earning your own way in the world.  She had taught them the approach to farm life and the love of God.  She had cooked, cleaned, clothed them, grew a garden, milked the cows, and hugged each one of them.  Then they grew up.

They in turn, got married, gave Mildred grandchildren, and again she taught them all she could, and especially the love of God.  By now she had grown older, but so had her trust in God; older and sweeter.  By now her faith was stronger than ever and her feeble hand held on to the promises of her Savior.  And the grandchildren grew up.

old woman and baby

So it goes.  Babies and grandmothers are born on the same day.  You may feel as if you have no great calling, but you do.  You have family that needs to hear from you the story of your walk with the Lord.  You have children watching you to see if you remain true to your faith and if you lean on Jesus.  You have babies to hold,  stories to tell and faith to strengthen.

Thank you, Mildred, for reminding us of this.

Weathering the Stormy Weather

It’s storm season.  In some places there’s flooding, in others, thunder and lightening.  Here in North Dakota, we see wind, hail and tornadoes. In the midst of a storm of majestic proportions, there is a feeling of wild abandonment because there is nothing we can control: not the rain, the direction, the savagery nor intent of the storm.  We know we’re in for a  turbulent ride. It can be scary, too.

dakota storm

An old man applied for a job at a desolate ranch one late evening.  He had walked long on the dusty trail and was very tired.  The ranch owner needed help, but one look at the old man and he thought, This guy won’t do me much good.  But being interested in the old man’s story he asked, “why should I hire you?”  The old man replied, “because I can sleep through a storm.”  That seemed like a strange answer, but the rancher hired him on anyway.  Through the next two weeks the old man worked slowly, but steadily and with thoroughness.  One night a great wind and driving rain pushed across the plains and hit with fury the rancher’s place.  The rancher jumped out of bed and ran to the bunk house.  Crashing through the door he found the old man sleeping soundly.  He sure can sleep through a storm, thought the rancher.  “HEY!” he called.  “Wake up!  Don’t you see the storm?  Don’t you know the horses will be afraid? and the cows will run off?”  The old man turned over in his bunk.  “I told you I can sleep through a storm.”

“But what does that mean?” the rancher yelled.

“It means,” said the old man, “That the corrals are shut.  The barn is bolted.  The horses are in the stable.  The dogs are in the kennels.  The hay is covered.  It means I am prepared for the storm and have nothing to worry about.” Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

Mark 4:37-38 

Jesus was sleeping in the boat because he had nothing to worry about.  The disciples had something to learn from Him.  Preparing for the storm means enriching your relationship with Jesus, reading His love story to you, talking to your best Friend all the time.  It means you will have nothing to worry about.

Bring Floaties for Baptism

Many families will be traveling during the summer to swim in a pool.  There the children will squeal and jump in the refreshing water.  Toddlers boldly go into water that is vast and deep, as long as Mom or Dad is right there beside them.  They have no worries. Toddler SwimsEquipped with life jackets or floats they awkwardly kick their feet and wave their arms in an effort to learn how to swim.  Though there are sometimes tragedies in and around pools, there is a lot of fun, too.  What makes the difference between the two? Supervision. With adequate watch care, it is possible for the young to venture out into deep pools, learn to jump, swim, hold your breath, and play underwater.

Of course I’m going to make a spiritual point here.  We encourage our new converts to learn to swim in the community of brethren, but sometimes we fail to give adequate supervision.  A baby Christian can no more swim in the pool of evangelism and theology than the toddler who forgets her floaties when going to the YMCA.  In baptizing them it’s as if we dip them under the water, lift them up and let them drown.  Studies show it takes at least a year before a new Christian has acclimated into the religion where he was baptized.  Even then, he or she may be worried about certain activities (like, do I have to join the choir when I really can’t sing), and most assuredly will have continuing questions about their walk with God.    We can lift them and their family up in prayer, we can make sure they are familiar with the Bible lessons we are all learning, we can befriend them, realizing that many of their friends now find them “out of sync” with the old life style.  After baptism, we must offer them floaties.  We are responsible to nurture and encourage them in any way we can.

Feeling Helpless

We all, at times have wondered what to do about the situation we have found ourselves in.

helpless

I remember a time when my daughter was very young, maybe two years old.  She was having trouble breathing and I couldn’t understand why. We took her to the emergency room where the doctor told us she was having an allergic reaction.  For the longest time (it seemed like hours) I sat beside her little body as she struggled to breathe.  Her eyes were wide, pleading.  Yet there was nothing I could do.  It was a few minutes after the nurses had hooked up an IV bag to start the medicine that she began to breathe normally.  But the ache in my heart lasted longer.  I worried; would this happen again?  Would this be a life-long struggle we would go through? Would it affect the way she grew up?  As a parent I was ready to do anything to help her.  Fortunately we learned the cause was the new puppy we gave her.  She was allergic to dogs.

Kinda reminds me of King David, before he was the king, hiding in the caves from Saul who sought to kill him.  He was hiding from a powerful foe and he didn’t know what to do.  Would this be a life-long struggle for David?  Would he have to go through this again?  He sat in the dank, wet and cold cave and wrote these words:

“I cry out loudly to God,
    loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
    and spell out my troubles in detail.”

Notice how he had the courage to tell God exactly what was bothering him.  Then he said,

“As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
    you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
    the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
    there’s not a soul who cares what happens!
I’m up against it, with no exit—
    bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
    ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen;
    I’ve never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
    I’m no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
    so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
    and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!” (Psalm 142, The Message)

We may not be hunted down as David was,  but we will find ourselves in a metaphorical cave crying out to God, “You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!” Save me!  Save my daughter!  Save my job!  Save my marriage. And you know,  He will “…bring showers of blessing!”