Sunday, July 15, 2012

The thrill of obedience

       I would like to take a few minutes and praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I have been blessed in the last 6-12 months to have had such a breakthrough in my spiritual walk that I must testify about it.  This poor man cried, the Lord heard him, and saved him out of his troubles. (Psalm 34:6).  I have cried out to God and sought for him in certain areas of my life and I have found him (Jeremiah 29-13).  There is no greater thrill as a Christian than knowing that God has called you to obedience and you have answered with a resounding YES!  By no stretch of the imagination have I mastered every battle, however I have seen the grace of God evident in my life helping me to make great strides in the areas of being a husband,  in actually putting God first in much more of my life , and in actually sharing my faith with others and striving to build them up in theirs.  Admittedly, I feel a call to ministry on my life.  However, if you have been reading my posts then you know that I believe the Bible teaches we should all be doing this as Christians.  Certainly some are called to a specific ministry calling, but the Great Commission was for everyone(Matthew 28:16-20)
     Until a year or so ago I was failing miserably in this.  Oh I would have the occasional conversation.  Perhaps I would even instigate it.  But it was haphazard, not intentional.  The driving force in my life was not a desire to win the lost and glorify God within every aspect of my life.  I would talk about wanting that but my life was not reflecting it.  No, when I was home, my life revolved around my family, television, and food.                                                                                                
     I love my family.  I have a beautiful wife, and two little boys, all of whom I adore.  However, through a number of arguments, about numerous issues, I discovered that I was not loving them in a Godly fashion. See I fully believe in spiritual headship and submission of the wife to the husband as it relates to Christ and the Church.  Not in the abusive way in which many men use it.  However, I was so busy defending my rights or trying to effect change by force, that I did not realize that I had totally missed what my wife needed from me. This year God placed 1st Corinthians 13 style love on my heart as the way in which he wanted me to try to treat people.  I was already a relatively loving and patient person in general, or so I thought.  The truth was that I paled in comparison when I looked at God's idea of how we are to love each other.  So I cried out.  I asked God to help me lay myself aside and to love my wife the way Jesus loved the Church.  That was the beginning of a lot of change in me and it amazed me how much easier we began to get a long.  It surprised me how quickly, in some areas, she has desired to grow as a result of my choosing to let go of  the responsibility for her change.  You see in any relationship the only person whom you should be actively trying to change is YOU.  And that, only by the grace of God.  So cry out to him, because he listens and he cares.
    Food is a challenge in which I have not yet seen major breakthrough yet so please continue to pray for me as I  cry out to God for the grace and strength to begin to effect change in that area of my life.  What I can say is that my addiction to television and movies worsened my eating issues because I would stay up late and watch movies or television shows and eat while I did it.
    My parents, siblings, and I have been TV and movie junkies for as long as I can remember.  I guess we just couldn't see the damage it was doing to our spiritual selves in regards to the junk we were allowing in to our spirits and the time that we wasted when we could have been growing in our study of the Word or out sharing it with others.  Gratefully, God made me aware of the need for this to change and yet I still struggled for a while.  I would be driving home from church or work and my first thought often would be to turn on the TV and see what was on, catch up on what I had missed that had been recorded, or to watch the latest movie that had come out.  Even at work, if there was downtime and I could catch something on a TV, I would.  Praise be to God that in the last 6 months he has taken away that hunger and replaced it with a hunger for God's Word.  I now listen to at least one sermon a day by podcast from some ministers whom God is using to feed me.  In my thirty minute commute to work I catch half on the way to work and half on the way home from work.  What really amazes me is that I, as a musician, have of late been giving more ear time to preaching than music.  A MAJOR shift, of this you can be sure.
     I want to be clear that, these changes have not come lightly.  They have been with great desperation and crying out to God at times.  You see, the first thing you need in order to see change is a desire to change.  If there is any element in your life that is not wholly surrendered to God through the scriptures and you know biblically that you should change but you feel know desire to then you must cry out.  Beg God to help you to hunger and thirst after righteousness(Matthew 5:6).
     I wanted to share my faith but I never would have imagined a blog.  One day God dropped the idea in my spirit in such a way as to command obedience.  The rest is history.  I don't know what God has planned for me.  What I do know is that I am no longer satisfied to disobey.  I must strive to step out in obedience, even though it is scary.  Even though I do not know the end result.  And, even though I have, and I know I will again, meet resistance to the idea of moving, step by step, further into ministry.  This blog, though I have no idea how many people are actually reading it, has been a huge blessing to me.  I know it is my primary outlet, given by God for this season, for honing my thoughts and skills in developing expression of thought on biblical topics. Whatever kind of ministry God leads me to I know that I am forced to delve into scripture deeper all the time in order to scripturally substantiate my thoughts.  It is awesome.  I praise God that some who do follow it have encouraged me that I am sound in message and delivery, that it is a blessing to them, and to keep it up.  
    Outside of this blog, I have asked God to help me step out of my comfort zone in obedience at work.  I work in a hospital Emergency Department.  As you can imagine, I am exposed to every possible scenario of people group and life struggle.  Without going into heavy detail,  let me just say that in the last 6 weeks God has given me many opportunities to pray with people that needed prayer.  I have looked up scriptures that pertained to their situation and created quick documents for them to keep to encourage them along the way. He has used me to minister to people with psychological and behavioral issues that no one there knew how to handle except to drug them up.  Some of these have happened in view of staff by no choice of my own and God gets the glory.  I am continually looking for opportunities to do this as I cannot express the excitement that comes from being the conduit by which God shows himself to others.  I hope to have some bibles handy soon that I can provide to patients as the spirit leads.  In addition to this, I have seen favor as I have been able to use downtime to sit with my bible open and study or work on things.  This has created opportunities for conversation about Jesus and inspires thought on the part of those that observe this sometimes silent witness.  
   We are supposed to be peculiar people.  People are supposed to notice something different about us.  I am so grateful that God has seen fit by his grace and not by any merit of my own to bless me with this growth and these opportunities.  I so look forward to what he is continuing to do and I pray that this will inspire others to look at their lives and take one of two paths.  Either they will recognize their need for Jesus and cry out for his saving grace in their lives or they are already believers and will develop a hunger for growth and change, by his grace, that will serve as an example of God's goodness to others whom their lives affect.  
   Philippians 2:12-13 says, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose".  I pray this becomes a reality in your life.

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