Friday, February 28, 2014

How to Handle Insecure Times in Our World

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)

Sometimes I get discouraged thinking about all the trouble in the world. Watching the evening news recently hasn’t provided me with much more assurance that our world is stable. It seems like peaceful times are all in the past. I know this isn’t true, but it’s easy to feel this way when you look at world events.

When we feel stressed or insecure about our situation or about the world we live in, it’s normal to look for security and comfort. Sometimes we try to find it in relationships or in our finances. Where do you find your security? It may be in your job, in your status, or maybe in chocolate! Most often when we seek security and peace in these lesser things, we are simply wandering away from the One who can deliver real peace.

When I was growing up, I would occasionally complain about the way things were going in my world. My mother, always attentive to our spiritual development, would gently ask me if I was finding my fulfillment in Christ. Generally this would irritate me, but more often than not she had hit the nail on the head. Later on I grew to see how correct she was. Looking back, I’m glad my mother steered me in the right direction.

You see, when we get our eyes off of Christ, we tend to find frustration. Neither this world nor the best it has to offer can give us the kind of peace and security we find in Jesus. In fact, Jesus said we’d have trouble in this world! So where are you looking for peace and security today?

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Rising Barometer

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 (NKJV)

It was a perfect evening as my friend Ron and I launched the boat and headed out to deeper water to fish. The water was calm, and there was a refreshing breeze that kept us cool. At first we weren’t catching many fish, so we decided to head to the opposite side of the lake where I had previously discovered a secret “honey hole.”

I anchored the boat, and we dropped our hooks in the water. After a short while we began to catch fish—lots of fish, and all keepers! I knew it was a great spot, but I had never caught so many fish.

After a short while I noticed the sky seemed unusually dark. At first I shrugged it off, but a few moments later I looked over my shoulder and saw dark, ominous clouds rolling toward us. Now it all made sense: The reason for our good fortune was that fish often feed while the barometer is rising.

I knew we had to make haste and get my aluminum boat off that lake. At first we made a bee-line for the opposite shore where we had departed from. But as lightning started to crash all around us, we decided to go the longer but safer route around the shoreline. By the time we got back, we were soaked to the core—but we were safe from the storm.

It reminded me of the story in the Bible where Jesus and the disciples were out in their boat. A big storm came along, and Jesus slept right through it! When the disciples, who were scared to death, woke Jesus up, He calmed the storm with three simple words: “Peace, be still.”

Are you facing a storm today? Call on Jesus. He can calm your storm and give you peace.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Interests of Others

 …not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

I was a little out of my element, and I didn’t feel particularly equipped for the task. But I stepped up.

You see, my wife was overdue for a night out with her girlfriends, and a parent needed to accompany our 5-year-old daughter to her ballet recital dress rehearsal. This left me on deck. The questioning glare of the moms backstage left no doubt that I was out of place.

I’m sure my daughter, Ivy, would have rather had her mom with her, but I could tell she also enjoyed having me experience this part of her world. And it was clear she needed my moral support on this exciting and intimidating evening. So, I faced my fear of bows, ribbons, and lace…and in true male character, I soldiered on.

Still, I felt significantly under equipped and tellingly out of my element. But it was my love for my daughter that kept me focused on her needs and concerns instead of on my shortcomings. She needed me on this nerve-rattling evening, and so I was there.

I’m reminded that this is just what love does. Whether it’s for a friend or a neighbor or a daughter, love looks to the needs and concerns of another even at our own expense, even when it’s inconvenient.

This kind of love is the reality of the Christian experience. It is the substance of our faith. Ridiculously inconvenient love is what brought the Son of God from the splendors of heaven to the reality of a sinful earth. When we needed Him most, He showed up. He gave Himself for us…even though we didn’t deserve it.

Coincidentally, this kind of love is also the foundation of strong earthly relationships. As we receive this amazingly inconvenient love from our Savior, let’s remember to share it with those around us.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)