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Recognizing Him

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Do we recognize Jesus in our day to day walk through life?  I know that I usually don’t.  I’ve really been reflecting on that thought for the past week in reading about Jesus’ resurrection and those he encountered after he arose.  He met the men on the road to Emmaus and asked them what they were talking about.  They couldn’t believe that he hadn’t heard what happened to Jesus.  They suspected that he was new in town.  I think Jesus enjoyed being a little rascally in this situation.  He asks them what things happened.  They tell about Jesus being a prophet and being crucified three days ago.  They tell him the rumors they heard about the tomb being empty.  Jesus shares with them the scriptures and what the prophets had said in the Old Testament.  They listen to Jesus share and begin to approach the village.  Jesus continues on ahead like he’s going past the village and the men immediately invite him to stay with them because it’s getting late.  Jesus accepts their invitation. When it was time to eat, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread and hands it to the men.  The men suddenly have an aha moment and then Jesus disappears.  Can you imagine, not recognizing Jesus for that length of time and then when you finally do, He’s gone?  But, they can’t keep this discovery to themselves.  They return back to Jerusalem immediately to find the eleven disciples that were gathered together to tell who they saw.

The disciples are discussing the possibility of Jesus being alive when suddenly he shows up.  They are startled, but Jesus tries to calm them down and says, “I’m real, touch my scars.  Does a ghost have flesh and bones as I do?”  After they see that he is real, he asks them for food.  They give him some fish and he ate it in front of them.  He then explains to them how He fulfilled the scriptures through his death and resurrection.  Their minds are opened and they begin to understand.  He tells them that they are his witnesses and they will spread the good news when the time arrives.  He speaks of a helper that would give them power and that they would have to wait on that before they could spread the gospel.

The last passage I looked at was when the disciples are fishing in John 21.  They aren’t catching anything; their day isn’t going so well.  Someone from the shore gives them advice to cast their net on the other side, they follow his advice and they caught more than they could haul. Suddenly, one of the disciples realizes who it is and tells Peter, “It’s our Lord!” Peter gets excited and jumps off the boat, swims toward the shore and to Jesus.  The other disciples bring the boat to shore and go to Jesus.  Jesus is cooking fish and bread for them.  He tells them to bring some of the fresh meat they just caught to add to the breakfast.  After they eat, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him more than the others.  Peter says, “Yes, you know that I do.”  Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”  And then asks again, “Do you really love me?”    Peter says, “Yes, I do, you know I do.”  Jesus replies “Take care of my sheep.”  Jesus asks a third time, “Do you love me?”  Peter’s feelings are a little hurt from the repetitive questioning, he says “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!” Jesus tells him again to feed his sheep and to follow him.

So, the few things that I noticed that were constant in each of these passages are that Jesus wasn’t recognized immediately.  The men traveling alongside him didn’t realize who he was until he broke bread with them.  It was in that intimate setting where they wound down after a day of traveling that they realized who he was.  I find myself realizing that I’ve had instances in my life where Jesus has walked alongside me on some long roads where I didn’t recognize Him until after that journey was over.  The disciples that were gathered together didn’t understand how it could be Jesus there with them.  They saw him crucified, they saw him die and yet he appeared to them.  They were afraid, but Jesus explained to them why it happened and they had their aha moment with scripture coming alive to them.  There are times in my life when I don’t recognize Jesus. I question him and doubt, but then I find him revealed once again to me in scripture.  Lastly the disciples were working; they were busy and didn’t recognize Jesus at the shoreline.  They were frustrated with the way their day was going, not catching any fish.  They heard advice from the shore and listened to it, not realizing who was saying it until they obeyed.  Suddenly their bad day changed and they caught a ton of fish and they recognized the source…..Jesus.  I can absolutely attest to this happening a lot in my life.  I have days where I’m frustrated at work because nothing is coming in, I’m grumpy, I’m worried, but then I’ll hear a voice that either instructs or reminds me that He’s there with me.  The tide changes, something comes in and I’m reminded that Jesus will supply my need.

The next thing that ties all three of these passages together is food.  With the travelers, Jesus is invited for dinner.  When he shows up to the disciples, he asks for food and when he’s on the shore, he cooks and serves food to the disciples.  I love to eat and I’m glad Jesus does too!  We need food to live, to sustain us, to fill us up.  Jesus is the bread of life.  Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6: 32-35.  I need Jesus to truly life to the fullest, he sustains me and he fills me up, he satisfies me better than a snickers bar! And, I love snickers!  But, Jesus is truly the only one who can satisfy this hunger within me.

The last theme in these passages is to share who Jesus is with others.  The travelers immediately went to tell the other disciples when they figured out they had spent the day with Jesus.  The disciples were told that they were Jesus witnesses and that they were to tell others about Him once the Holy Spirit gave them power to do so.  The disciples, especially Peter were asked to feed His sheep.  We are supposed to share Jesus with others.  I honestly don’t do it enough. So, that makes me question myself….do I really love him?  Am I more concerned with what others think, whether I will offend them, instead of being concerned about where they are spiritually?  Yes, often times I am.  Other times, I know that I allow myself to be so busy with life that others I pass are just a blur to me.  I have recognized that I miss Jesus a lot and so I am reminded to look for Him, to spend time with Him, to be directed by him and to share him with others around me.

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Posted by on April 2, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Lessons Learned

Today, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve been teaching the teens in youth.  We’ve been exploring wisdom and the book of Proverbs.  The older I get, the more I realize that I still have so much to learn.  Everyday there is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, God or others, if you are tuned in to what the Teacher wants to teach you.  I’ve always liked the book of Proverbs, even when I was running from God.  I think the reason I like it so well, is because it simply shows you the cause and effect of your actions, good and bad.

I came up with three quick “Rascally Proverbs” that I’ve learned through my life so far. The first one is “The more crow you eat, the easier it is to swallow.”  It stinks to admit when you are wrong.  There have been moments in my life that I’ve thought beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right about something, only to quickly realize I was completely wrong.  Nothing is quite as embarrassing to have to eat a heaping pile of crow in front of those you’ve vigorously argued against.  The crow slowly morphs into a nice fat slice of humble pie with each swallow.

The second one is “Jealous or untrue words against someone is like a baseball bat to the knees.”  The bible says, in the book of James, that we praise God with our tongue and with the same tongue we turn around and curse our brother who is made in God’s image.  Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth and it shouldn’t be.  The old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,”  is a big gigantic lie.  Words hurt more than anything else someone can do to you.  Words of others can paralyze you.  Words can weigh you down.  Words can make you unsure of yourself.  Words can make you doubt.  Words can cause you grief.  Words can make you sick.  Words can make you bitter and angry.

Yet, if we allow the holy spirit to guide our words they can bring peace to someone’s sorrow.  These words can propel people toward a goal.  These words can lift heaviness off of someone’s shoulders.  They can make someone believe and trust again.  They can make people smile.  They can make people grow and flourish.  God reminds me daily to bridle my tongue, sometimes I let words slip and I need to quickly apologize when that happens.

The third and final Rascally proverb of the day is, “Forgiveness rescues your heart and soul from disease.”  There are people throughout my life that were hard for me to forgive for various reasons.  I remember being so weighed down by unforgiveness that it anchored me in hate.  I was hurt and instead of letting hurt go, I fed it.  That unforgiveness and hurt made me rebel against God and any other authority in my life.  I blamed God for what people did, instead of seeing that it was their fault, not His.

But, as I progressed through my life, I learned that I diseased my heart by letting unforgiveness grow there. I tried to keep the hurt enclosed in a petri dish inside my heart but it was growing out of control.  I was destroying myself with it.  That unforgiveness was released when I saw someone I hadn’t forgiven; completely broken themselves.  I saw them sobbing and spiritually devastated.  I could’ve easily laughed and say that’s what they deserve, but instead I saw them as human again.  Weak flesh, like me.  Fragile, so easily broken.  Compassion overwhelmed my heart and I went to them and let them cry on me.  I started crying too; with each tear drops of forgiveness melted within me.  The balm of forgiveness repaired hearts and relationships that day.  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13.

God, continue to teach me daily. Help me to see when you are trying to show me something and help me to extend your love to others.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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My Constant

I have never been a fan of change. I’m a creature of habit and when things tailspin out of my routine, I get upset and nervous. When I was a kid, I was super anxious prior to school starting because I didn’t know if I’d like my teacher or if I’d have classes with my friends. Stepping into the unknown has always been hard for me. I think most of us, can say that. When I went away to college my freshman year, I was both excited to be away from home and nervous to leave. I wanted to gain some independence from my parents and experience the world for myself. On the way down to college, I got sick. I couldn’t eat, I was scared that I wouldn’t adjust. But, I knew I had to adjust. Deep down I wanted change, I just was unsure of how much that change would cost me. It took about a month to get over being homesick and to adjust to my new surroundings. Once I adjusted, I didn’t want things to change. But, change is inevitable. After 2 1/2 years of being away at college, it was time to come back home. I didn’t want to come back, but I knew I had to. My time there was done. I got just as sick going back home as I did when I left home.

This weekend, our pastor announced a time for change for him. It was time for him to go back home. I know many people are scared of the things they can’t see on the horizon. I understand that, I’m in the same boat. We get attached to people, we don’t want them to leave, we’ve let our guard down and trusted someone. We tell ourselves when someone is leaving that we will never allow someone to get that close again. All of us are subject to attachments, but often separation occurs and we have to adjust. But, there are constants in our life that we have to remind ourselves about.

The bible says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus is a constant, man is not. We have to remember to trust him. He hasn’t changed. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not told you? Be strong and have strength of heart! Do not be afraid or lose faith. For the Lord your God is with you anywhere you go.” God is always with us, he hasn’t left us. Remember that when you are afraid. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything under Heaven. Right now is a time of change, but remember again what is constant. Where is your hope? The future is unknown to us, but step into it because there is a guide to be by yours and my side. Romans 15:13 says “Our hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

It’s ok to be afraid, just tighten your grip on the Lord’s hand. He’s there. He’s constant. father-child-holding-hands-e1327959452859

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Visiting or Inhabiting?

I grew up and still attend a Pentecostal church.  When outsiders hear the word, “Pentecostal,” they immediately think of weird people that do unusual things during service.  When I was a kid, I saw all kinds of weird behavior, I think some was genuine and others not so much.  I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but I guess I don’t see it the way others do.  There are things I hear a few people say at our church that I get tired of hearing like, “The spirit isn’t here like it used to be.”  I don’t agree with them at all. 

I will admit that I’ve had strange things happen to me that I know was the Holy Spirit.  When I was in college, I was very down and depressed.  I had been running from God and had given into some bad habits.  But, one Wednesday night at chapel, I felt God’s love smack me right in the face.  I started laughing uncontrollably and couldn’t stop.  God gave me His love and His joy, I was overwhelmed.  It was definitely not me, because I was the cool kid, I didn’t want to look like a fool.  If I was in my flesh, I wouldn’t have literally kept laughing out loud.  After I gained my composure I felt led to go to my old boyfriend who hurt me and I told him that I forgave him.  That was monumental because I was hurt greatly by him, I hated him.  But, that night things changed and I saw him as a human who made mistakes.  That was God, not me.

In my adult life, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit during different services.  One service, my shoulder was healed.  It had been aching for a long time.  God touched it and that pain hasn’t returned.  I’ve spoken in tongues a few times, but it’s been mostly at home during my private prayer time.  I’ve attended long services where the spirit was thick and people kept falling out.  I know the Holy Spirit was there, but this is where my thoughts start to shift.  I don’t believe the Holy Spirit visits the same way every time the church doors are open.  In fact, I don’t think the Holy Spirit comes and goes.  Once you receive Him, He’s there.  He doesn’t go on vacation.  He doesn’t move to another church down the road.  He’s in you.  He’s in me.  Here’s the key to the Holy Spirit, He doesn’t travel like a ghost possessing Christian people. He comes inside you and you become the vehicle of transportation.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t want to be confined to a church, He wants to go out into the world and touch lives.  You cannot have the fruits of the spirit without first having the Holy Spirit. 

So, to make the statement, “The spirit isn’t here like it used to be,” what does that say about those that think that way?  This is how I think it is.  I think those who feel that way are looking for a quick gratification.  I don’t think they realize it either.  I think it’s like someone who wants sex and not a relationship. They want to feel good, but don’t want to carry out the good.  I know that’s a jaw dropping statement, but it’s just my thoughts.  Why do I say that?  Because when the Holy Spirit comes and resides in you, others should see Him.  Others see it by the fruit it produces.  If someone lives in my house, others know because I talk about who lives there.  Jesus said go and make disciples.  How do we have the motivation and determination to do it?  The Holy Spirit instructs, convinces, and aids us to do so. 

There are moments in my everyday life that I get sidetracked.  These moments are the Holy Spirit guiding me to do something that my flesh doesn’t want to do.  Those moments include things like, stop everything to give someone a ride to the store that doesn’t have a car, smiling at the cashier that is slow at checking out while I’m in a hurry to get out of the store, giving money to someone when I don’t think I have enough for myself, listening to someone hurting, writing a note to someone, or just saying hello to someone passing by.  But that’s so small, you might think.  But it’s not, its little things that open doors for bigger things.  When I carry out these moments, I feel satisfied.  When I ignore doing what the Holy Spirit wants me to do, I feel frustrated.  So, my final statement is this, are you looking to meet the Holy Spirit or carry the Holy Spirit? 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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A Rapid June

On June 10th, the group headed to Ace Adventure Resort for our big summer retreat. The former youth pastor, Kelly Blanton traveled in from Texas along with his intern, Jonathan Perkins to be our guest speakers during the retreat. That afternoon, shortly after we arrived, we embarked on our first event at the resort, which was a mud obstacle course. Our guide led us to the start of the course. There he handed us all a PDF and instructed us on a few things. We put on our PDF vests and helmets, we were eager to get dirty. We decided to run the course as a team, which meant we had to make sure everyone made it through the obstacle before we moved on to the next. The guide blew the whistle and we took off. Cristal was the first to leap into the first obstacle, while the rest wasn’t far behind. The pit was thick with mud and we had to crawl under logs with netted rope over them. The smell hit our noses immediately, it was quite putrid. Each obstacle was a challenge and the group worked well as a team, whenever someone was stuck they encouraged them and even gave a little push/pull when needed. Whitney even met a friend along the way!
After the mud obstacle, we walked back to our campsite, laughing and reminiscing over the muddy good time we had. The theme for our retreat was servant hood, so once we arrived back at camp I instructed the teens to not run to the shower yet. My lesson was on Jesus and washing the disciples feet. I had each of the teens sit at the picnic table as Dave and I prayed over and washed each of there feet. They were nice and grimy too, considering what activity they just went through.
The next morning we headed to our check in station for our whitewater trip. Several youth and adults were a bit nervous about rafting, while some of the others were pretty excited about it. After the long bus ride to the river, our group was split into two rafts. Both groups had fantastic guides. I was very impressed by the professionalism and knowledge of the guides. We hit the river and enjoyed the time working as a team, riding the whitewater, and coasting through the calm spots. That afternoon when we arrived back to the campsite, Dave taught his lesson on listening to the guide. I won’t spoil it, since he will be presenting it to the church soon. Then that evening after dinner, Kelly spoke to the group about discipleship and putting others ahead of yourself, among other things.
The next day, we went rappelling and rock climbing. I am terrified of heights, so I was really nervous about this event. The guides gave us clear instruction on what to do, they were very informative and helpful. We rappelled first, I nervously waited my turn and determined that I would conquer this fear ready or not. They clipped my harness, gave me a quick re cap on what to do, and I slowly lowered myself off the cliff. I didn’t look down, I kept my focus above. When I started hearing the cheers from the others who went before me and the onlookers, I was thankful I was close to ground. It wasn’t that bad actually, I’m very glad I did it. When it was time to rock climb though, I didn’t do as well. I attempted it. I climbed a little, it was really hard to position yourself and the rocks were a little slippery. Plus, I was a big chicken! Brian, Heath, and Thorne did a great job on the rock climbing, they climbed like Spiderman! Whitney did a good job too, she was like me, a little afraid of heights.
That afternoon we spent time at the lake, playing on the water toys, sliding down the waterslide, zipping into the water, and bouncing on the trampolines. It wore me out, but was a lot of fun. If you are ever looking for an awesome place to do some extreme adventures, Ace Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, WV is the place for you. They have excellent guides, great food, nice lodging, and nice facilities.
That evening Kelly, Dave, Jonathan, and I shared in the lesson for the evening. We talked about sacrifice, obedience, and change. I hope the kids got a lot out of the trip. My heart is that we all will come closer to God and develop the heart of Christ for others. We can make a difference in our community, schools, and workplace if we allow the holy spirit to guide us and teach us daily.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Youth

 

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