Monday, July 27, 2015

Pace Yourself

How many times have you heard someone complain about God not moving fast enough for them?  Better yet…when’s the last time you complained because God wasn’t moving fast enough for you? Whether it’s waiting for a new job, a house to sell or buy, adoption process, direction in school, meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right, that long annoying traffic light to change.  It seems to me nearly everyone complains at some point in life about how God is not moving fast enough for them.

There’s a small lake locally that is void of any houses and has trails all around it.  Often on Saturday mornings I’ll get up early and go run the trails around the lake.  It’s not only good exercise, it’s good prayer time…good God time.  On a recent run I was praying and really felt God’s presence.  I know this will sound strange to some, but it’s as if God was running right alongside me…enjoying the run.

And then it dawned on me.  God is really, really fast.  I mean…He’s God!  He is lightning fast!  And yet He seems content to go at my pace.  He seems pleased to slow down and run next to me at a pace I can handle.  It’s as if He just simply enjoys my presence.

For you see, God is not really slow.  He is God.  Do you really think you could outpace God?  The truth is He really is content, pleased and happy to run at your pace.  He could go faster, but in reality you wouldn’t be able to keep up and you’d miss out on His presence.

God moves slow for your sake.

So the next time you think God is super slow in moving in your life, don’t look behind you and think, “Gosh…God is so slow.  He fell behind so far to where I can’t even see him anymore!”

Instead, look next to you.  You will find Him there enjoying your presence and going at your pace…a pace you can handle. 

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”  2 Peter 3.8-9 NLT

~ Kevin Baker

Monday, July 20, 2015

Warrior Princess

One of my most favorite books growing up was the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  In this book the children received special gifts from Aslan the lion, who represented Jesus in this series.  They received weapons to use to fight in the battle against the evil White Witch and her army.  I can remember playing that I was a warrior princess and that Aslan the lion had given me the gift of a dagger or some other weapon that I would use to fight the bad guys.  I would also “protect” our chickens by herding them around the yard, guiding them to “safety”.  And snakes were my nemesis, and I often would crush them as they were the most vile of enemies.  (Sorry to any snake lovers out there.)

I’ve grown out of chasing around chickens and for the most part don’t kill snakes when I see them (usually), but I have not grown out of my desire to use my special gifts to serve our true God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has given me gifts and a passion that He created in me for a special purpose, to fight in this battle here on earth.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

We who follow Christ are called His sons and daughters, so we are princes and princesses of the Most High God.   And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  II Corinthians 6:18

Our Father gives us good gifts to use here during our one lifetime.  He has uniquely designed each of us for a special purpose to further His Kingdom here on earth, and equips us with the weapons and armor needed to accomplish what we are meant to do.  We simply need to receive what He has given us, put on His armor and stand firm and pray. 
(Ephesians 6: 10-18)

Passion Prayer

Lord, place others in my life that can direct me to Your calling.
As you gave Samuel - Eli, to point out the voice of God.
When I hear you call me,
May I say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
May I be prepared to do what You call me to do.

Lord, May I hear Your voice guiding me.
May I be as Phillip and follow even if it seems crazy…
Running along beside a chariot.
Equip me to do the work You have called me to do.
May I be prepared to share Your Words.

Lord, give me courage to go where You send me.
May I be as Esther, resigned to face death if need be
As she walked before the king.
Open my eyes for such a time as this, and
May my heart be prepared to give up everything.

Lord, use my life, I give You all of me.
May I be as Paul, chosen by You.
As You gripped his heart for change,
Transform in me that what must be renewed,
May my passion be infused with Your will.

~ Sue Parrott

Monday, July 13, 2015


Ambushed.  I didn’t even see it coming.  I walked into the meeting excited to discuss some new ideas and walked out feeling like some bully had pushed me over one of his cronies kneeling behind me – and this was a church meeting!  As I hopped into my car, I was ticked and wanted everyone else on the road to know it.  I was mad, hurt, and wanted to wallow in my self-pity.

A couple miles down the road I sensed the conviction of the Holy Spirit – I knew my heart was going the wrong direction.  So I just started spewing, “God, I was just ambushed in that meeting.  I’m so angry I want drive over to those people’s house, tell them off, and take out their mailbox on the way out.”  

As soon as the words came out of my mouth I could see how dumb they were, but I needed to say them none-the-less.  Then I followed up my rant with a desperate question, “Holy Spirit, I know I’m not feeling right about all this, how am I supposed to feel and react towards all of this?” 

Like a thunderbolt the words of James 1:2-3 came to mind, “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” 

As a young pastor I’d been praying God would help me to mature and grow in my capacity to lead and shepherd.  He answered – and I was not ready for it.  I actually started laughing out loud in my car as I put all the pieces together (any bystander watching my transformation would have thought I was crazy). 

Ever since that experience I’ve tried modeling this method of confession and dependence in times of frustration and temptation.  Almost always the Holy Spirit directs my heart to respond in a way that honors him, usually embracing one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23). 

In moments of tension we’re all prone to anger, gossip, lust, or discontentment.  But by the help of the Spirit we can begin to see our temptation more clearly and respond in a way that reflects Christ’s life in us. 

Today, begin to incorporate this simple method of prayer into your life.  As you bump into frustrations or temptation tell God exactly what you’re feeling and what you’d like to do.  It might not be pretty, but he already knows. And by confessing those things out loud to God we tend to see our temptation more clearly.  Then, submit yourself to the Holy Spirit by simply asking, “How should I be feeling about this situation and how would you like me to respond?”

Don’t be surprised when he answers!  Allow the Spirit to bring Scripture to mind.  And when he does, thank him and yield to the direction he is leading you. 

~ Ben Vaught

Monday, July 6, 2015

Yearning for Heaven

It’s 7:00 a.m., and your alarm is shrilling that terrible dissonant sound. You slap it off in irritation and roll out of bed.  You pretty much sleep through your shower, but somehow manage to finish, grab an apple, and run out the door.  On the way to work someone cuts you off at a one-lane squeeze.  You get to work, plop down at your desk, and read an email with bad news before you’ve even filled your coffee cup.  You glance at the clock in the office and it reads 8:07 a.m.  You’ve only been at work 7 minutes.  Seriously?  You put your face in your hands and think this is a very good time to visit your “happy place”.

I am in a huge meadow that has no borders.  The color is a so green that it takes my breath away.  I’m barefoot and walking slowly through soft, cool grass.  The air smells like lavender.  I lift my face to the sky and feel the breeze lift my hair.

You’re not thinking about why, but you know that this fantasy taps into something deep within you; something on the soul level.  You don’t just desire to be in this meadow, you realize you’re actually yearning to be there.  Almost like you’d give anything at that moment to experience it…..
The Apostle Paul describes this longing in 2 Corinthians 5:2
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. 

God has set into every human heart the desire for the pleasure and peace that Heaven provides.  We groan for what we do not have here.  When we have the experience of small glimpses of Heaven here on earth, it’s like the little tumblers in our soul suddenly all click into place, and everything is right--almost perfect even.  

We know perfection is in our future, but very often as Christians we get impatient.  We begin to warp our longing for Heaven by building and nurturing our own false, temporary heaven here and now. We turn to physical pleasures, material possessions, or relationships, in an attempt to squelch our yearning.  Sometimes we take our God-given longing for Heaven and say, “but I want it now!” 

In Scripture the earth is compared to a woman in the throes of childbirth: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Rom 8:22)  And then we’re told to wait patiently for it, because who hopes for what he already has? (v24)  If we spend our energies creating heaven here and now, where is our hope?  Like the woman in labor who forgets her pain when she sees her child, so will we forget our present sufferings on that glorious day. 

~ Kristin VanZanten