Archive for November, 2011

When God Spoke to Me in My Backyard

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Faith

There are life lessons to be taught and learned as a Dad. What appears trivial in a moment with my kids, God uses as a school book for my faith. Take for instance this last Saturday as I played baseball in the backyard with my boys. I was stoked about enjoying the cool weather and this fatherhood past time of playing catch with my sons. Fairly quickly, however, my good time slipped into frustration.

Playing catch is fun only if both participants are “catching” the ball. Both of my boys were doing fine in the throwing department. It was actually catching the ball where their skills broke down. I had been working with them on not being afraid of the baseball when I threw it their way. Their natural reaction was to fling their body away from the path of the ball making catching it near impossible. I gave encouragement, tips, pep talks, bribery and lectures: “Trust the glove! I’m not going to throw it harder than you can handle!”. I used all the tools that dads seem to pull out when they hit an impasse with their kids. Nothing was working. They were just plain scared of the ball.

God Speaks

That’s when God reached down in my backyard in Raleigh, NC and spoke to me:

“Nathan, you’re just like your sons.  As your Heavenly Dad I’m desiring to play catch with you all the time with the future I have for you and often you’re scared of the ball. Trust Me. Trust my throw. I’m not going to throw it harder than you can handle. I’ve given you all the tools you need: a new nature, faith, the power of the Spirit and unique giftings. Trust this glove I’ve given you and let’s play some ball.”

I bowed my head recognizing it was a holy moment. I whispered a prayer, “Got it……Thanks Dad.”

The Take Away

Needless to say, the rest of the afternoon I was much more patient with the boys.

With God’s help I’m trusting the Thrower and the glove He’s designed, knowing that faith always conquers fear.

What about you? Are there any God throws you’ve been avoiding? Let me hear from you below.

Advertisements

On a morning and nightly basis I have a time with God where He and I deal with my sin. It’s not a long time, but it’s crucial. Last night as I laid down I asked the Holy Spirit to bring anything to mind where my heart was not right: any rebellion, any misaligned thoughts and motivations, any sins of omission (things I should have done, but refused to do.)

He quickly reveals any sin to me and I humbly lay it all down and repent. Many have the misconception that repentance is just telling God your sorry or that it’s just a one-time thing when you first get saved. Repentance should actually be a daily discipline so that our heart remains tender to God. I see Repentance as having four characteristics:

1. Confession: Whether verbally said aloud or acknowledged in the heart to God,  here repentance is acknowledging our sin before God. It’s owning it: “Yes, I did this. I’ve sinned against you when I _(fill in the blank_).”  This gets us past making excuses by either blaming someone else or our circumstance.

2. Spiritual: It’s not enough to say: “I was wrong, I feel bad, please forgive me.” Confession alone is not repentance. Repentance is truly coming to a place of removing our affections from our rebellion > hating it >betraying it > turning our back on it and walking out. It’s about seeing our sin in the light of Jesus and spiritually ripping it down from its place of prominence in our heart and putting Jesus back in HIS rightful place in our Heart.

3. Practical: So we’ve confessed, spiritually turned our back on our sin, now it’s time to reject our sin practically. If repentance is turning our back on sin what does that mean practically in our everyday lives? It means if there is anything of a tangible nature to it, we deal with it.  It can be easy for us to miss this third part of repentance and fall into the trap of managing our sin instead of killing it.

Tangible examples: Not going back to a “place” where we’re prone to sin, leaving a relationship that’s dragging you down (I do not mean a spouse here), getting rid of some phone numbers of people that we sin with, getting rid of any tangible items or resources that are an avenue of sinning. For example, let’s say that I’ve been falling into the sin of lust by watching inappropriate movies that I own. Should I keep them? Is it worth it if they’re causing me to sin? No! I trash them. Satan would love us to believe the lie that we can “repent” without having to change our lifestyle.

Listen to Jesus here:

Matthew 5:28–31 (ESV)

28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Tear your eye out???  That’s a bit over the top….right? Jesus is using a hyperbole. He doesn’t literally mean tear your eye out. He’s making an extreme statement to make a point. Be ruthless with your sin! Make war with it!

4. Relational: If in our sin we’ve sinned against another person we need to go them “own it” and ask forgiveness. This could also mean that you feel someone has sinned against you and you’re carrying an offence against them and they don’t even know it. Go to them right away. Do this in a timely manner otherwise you’ll end up making excusing and rationalizing about how “it’s not a big deal and I don’t really need go to them.” Go!

Keeping your heart tender through repentance should be a daily spiritual discipline. Allow this soul scrubbing in your life to be life giving as you turn your back on your sin and embrace the one who paid an incredible price so that you could be a new creation in Him.

What about you? What are some ways that you deal with your sin as a Christian? Would you share below?

My mom was a HUGE William Shatner fan. As a kid I remember her watching Star Trek every night it was on and I was left to endure Captain Kirk’s reflective monologues on a regular basis. The only high light of the show for me was when the crew was “beamed” anywhere. You remember, they were teleported down to a new planet and then back to their ship. I was amazed by the idea of being able to just show up somewhere without having to take the time or the effort to actually make the trip.

My life balloon was deflated at the age of seven when I was told that no you can’t actually be “beamed” up or out or anywhere for that matter.

Still, I think the frustration still lingers for many of us  that want to go somewhere without having to take the necessary steps to get there.

We want a short cut…….an easy button. We want to play without having to pay.

For example: we want a deeper walk with Jesus, but not have to invest the time with Him. We want to be a writer, without the work. We want to lead without having to learn. We want to go global with our faith without having to go across the street, (Insert your desired short-cut here.)

Sometimes this comes from just plain laziness. Other times it’s something much darker……fear.

Fear: of failure, of something not being what we’d thought it be when we get there, that we won’t have what it takes or of how it might effect other areas of our life.

There could be a million combinations of why we we’re not embracing the process that God wants to take us on to get us where He wants. But here’s a not-so-well kept secret: if we got our wish to avoid “the work” we’d be miserable. Why?

You’d  have no story to tell.

An ending is only as interesting as the story that takes you there. Our lives are no different. The challenges, the effort, the work, the process, it’s all the adventure……the good stuff in the middle of our story. To avoid it would mean you could never mentor, never be able to reach back for a much needed overcoming moment in your story for the encouragement to endure your present.

The “becoming” doesn’t happen when you arrive, it happens in the journey….in your story.

There is no easy button. There is no way around the hard stuff. It’s part of becoming.

Pray. Decide. Then get busy writing the story that God has meant for you.

Let me hear your perspective. What “work” are you being called to? How are you overcoming the temptation to avoid the work? Share below.