How to Walk on Water

peterwalking

“So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus”(Matthew 14:29).

 I am changed.

 I have been through some stuff lately that I can’t even bear to talk about, but yes, it has changed me.

 I have had to let go of things that have hurt me deeply.   The kind of hurt that centers in your core and takes your breath away.

 And I won’t ever be the same.  

 Oh, yes, I believe in restoration and healing, but some things that happen to us, change us forever.  

 But maybe that isn’t a bad thing.   Nothing, and I mean nothing, the enemy tries to take away from us, will be lost forever.  

 Restoration is coming….deliverance is coming…..healing is coming.

 jesus walking  See Jesus walking on the water to your storm tossed boat.

 My very foundation has been shaken to the core but I surrender it all to Him.  

 He is there in the darkness,

in the sad and lonely,

and in pictures of our lives changing to a sad distortion of what we once knew.

 How would we even survive this world without Him. If you haven’t chosen Him as your Savior, whatever do you do with your fear and pain? How do you find peace?

 We all can get distracted, especially when the storms of life rage around us. 

 It’s not easy to keep your eyes on Jesus in the middle of the night, when fear threatens to overwhelm you.

 Very often our purest vision of Jesus comes when the storms of life threaten to capsize the tiny boat of our faith.

 shack  I love the scene in the movie Shack, where Mac is in the little boat out on the lake and his fears take over. The boat is capsizing to a ravaging black monster of fear that seems very real to Mac and water is pouring in……but then through the raging noise around him He hears Jesus yelling at him, “Mac, Mac, look at Me, look at Me!!!   It took a while for Mac to look up and see Jesus…but, oh, when he did, the deception of fear disappeared….and he reached out and took the hand of Jesus and stepped out of the boat with Him on the water.

 I hear quite often, “Dixie, look at Me!!!   Dixie, look at me, look at me!! Take my hand.”

 The wind always blows around us. The mighty storms come sooner or later. We have no choice or control over when the storm comes.

 Today the sun may be shining;

tomorrow we may find ourselves toiling against the wind and rain, tossed about by adversity. Life can turn on a dime. We all know that.

 What happened to Peter can happen to any of us. And most likely will.

jesus-and-peter-walking-on-water-600

 For a brief moment, Peter forgets about Jesus and remembers who he is and where he is. He is Peter, a Galilean fisherman who belongs back in the boat. In that instant he looks down at his feet and sees nothing but water underneath. His mind comes to a quick conclusion:

I’m not supposed to be walking on this water; this is impossible.”

 When he lost his concentration on Jesus, he began to sink.

 The lesson is clear for all of us.

Pray for “concentrating faith.” 

For eyes that see beyond the present.

Lean into Him with all your focus and might.

You can survive any storm if you keep your eyes on Jesus.

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 Lord Jesus, help me to walk on the waters of faith because you can calm every storm.

 

Oh, Mama Mary! Did You Know?

mary The virgin birth of Jesus touches me in a very female way in relating to sweet Mary as a mother.  Any mother beholding those scenes of recent Jesus movies of Mary watching her beloved Son tortured and murdered on that cross can’t help but feel the deep emotions and horror that Mary felt as she watched and fell at His feet sobbing.

It really happened!

No words to describe it!

So many questions.

We don’t know much about her.  We know she was young and poor and a devout believer in God.  And at the time of the angels announcement of her pregnancy she is in love with Joseph.

What God asks Mary to do will change her life forever.  She was just a teenager.

Gone are the happy dreams of a beautiful wedding; gone are the days of sweet anticipation; gone are the carefully-thought out plans for the wedding feast; gone are the hopes for “the most beautiful wedding to the most wonderful man who ever lived”; gone are all her girlish hopes of a quiet life in the home she would personally decorate.

She will be married, but not before rumors spread through the countryside.  There will be a wedding feast, but not the way she planned.  She will have a home, and it will be filled with children, but over her family will rest an uneasy cloud of dark questions.

It will all happen, but not the way she expected.

7_mary-gabriel“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary quite simply did not know what to make of it.  It’s as if someone you’ve never seen came up to you and said, “Good news.  This is your lucky day.  God has chosen you for a special blessing.”  How do you respond to that?

CONGRATULATIONS!  YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY!”

But that’s not the half of it.  Without a pause, Gabriel proceeds to tell her something that–to use a 21st century term Mary almost certainly wouldn’t have used–blows her mind.  He tells her she’s going to have a baby.  And not just any baby.  She’s going to give birth to the Son of God.

She only has one question, a technical matter she would like cleared up: “How can this be”, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  This is a perfectly natural question.  Mary is betrothed but not formally married.  She has never had sexual relations with any man.  How then can she become pregnant and bear a son?

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

The key point in Gabriel’s explanation is that what is about to happen to Mary will be the result of the direct intervention from God.

The Holy Spirit is the agent of the Virgin Birth; overshadowing is the means of the Virgin Birth; the Son of God is the result of the Virgin Birth.

7296601_f520NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD

In the history of the church, Mary has often been portrayed as a kind of misty, other-worldly figure.  If you look at some of the great paintings of Mary, they make her look so peaceful and beatific that you almost forget she was a real person.  But Luke makes it clear that she was very real, with very real doubts, very real questions and very real faith. Nowhere is this seen with more clarity than in Luke:

“I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  Then the angel left her.

Mary said Yes.  Yes to God, Yes to the impossible, Yes to the plan of God.

And all these things were just the beginning.  Mary could not know what the future would hold.  Before it was all over, she would experience heartache, opposition, slander, confusion, anguish, despair and loneliness.

In the end she would face the greatest pain a mother can endure when she would watch her son die on a cross.  She was changed when she conceived Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, but, I believe, nothing could have prepared her for that horrific night of watching her first born baby boy, who only loved, die a tortuous death. 

10363854_377819679023936_7543693983379870990_nShe would never forget it and it changed her….but, then again, not as much as three days later seeing Him come back in all of His glory!

What a story!

Mary didn’t know the full cost of saying yes that day.  But having made her decision she never looked back.

When God said, “Are you willing to believe the impossible?”, Mary said, “Yes I am!”  Without that Yes, there would be no Christmas.

A WOMAN GOD COULD TRUST

What about your ‘yes’?

Mary said Yes to shame and glory; she said Yes to God’s power; she said Yes to the impossible.

If somehow Mary could be here today and we could ask her, “Was it worth it?”, she would say “Yes”, I am sure of it.  Because now she knows that because of her obedience we are free– because she allowed God to use her to bring our Savior. 

So then, how do I relate to Mary’s example in this century?  What can I learn from her today?  How can I live my life through her example?

♥  She is a model of openness to great possibilities.  Can I be open to great possibilities in my life?  Supernatural possibilities?

♥  She is a model of faith in the face of many natural doubts.  Can I believe God when the natural way of things look like there is no other way?

It’s still true that “Nothing is impossible with God”.  That’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.  It’s also true that somebody has to say Yes or else the impossible will never happen.

I have no doubt that some of you reading this…

Are carrying heavy burdens today.

And Christmas will be lonely this year.

  • Some of you are facing a financial crisis that looks hopeless to you right now.

  • Some of you are out of work and don’t have a single lead on a good job.

  • Some of you are looking at a marriage that seems worse than hopeless.

  • Some of you are estranged from members of your own family.

  • Some of you have children who are far away from God.

  • Some of you feel lonely and far away from God yourselves.

The list goes on and on.  But all these things have this in common:

gods gloryThey seem impossible to solve by any human means.  If human means would have solved your problems, they would have been solved long ago.

But, if nothing else, allow Mary’s story to revive your faith this Christmas season to the God of the impossible.  He is not oblivious to your pain and your need.  Live in the realm of the supernatural because we are spiritual beings.

Focus on His capabilities and not your own.  He loves you and you matter!

kids Bible story of Jesus born in BethlehemChristmas is all about miracles.  They happened 2,000 years ago; they still happen today.

*”Mary did you know, that your  baby boy will someday walk on water?  Mary did you know, that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?  Did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new?  This child you’ve delivered will soon deliver you. 

Mary did you know, that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?  Mary did you know, that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?  Did you know, that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?  And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know, that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know, that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM.”

 

*Mary Did You Know; Mark Lowry: wrote the lyrics in 1984, and the music was written in 1991 when he gave it to Buddy Greene.

It’s Going To Be a Bumpy Ride….Saga of the Dysfunctional Family

Functional-Family-Convention-Slide-400x400Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  My big beautiful family all met together at my son’s house.  Looking around the table I had to laugh to myself as I studied each one.  If you have ever seen the sitcom, Parenthood, that is what my family reminds me of.  All talking at the same time with drama abounding.

Everyone of us there has had our own personal struggles.  I looked at those who have been divorced and saw pain like they never imagined.  I looked at the children who suffered through that pain through no fault of their own.  I saw those of us who have made poor choices and learned great lessons from those choices, and some who were still learning and stumbling along.  There were new people added to our clan that day by invitation that were instantly put at ease when they saw what a loud, raucous family we were.  And somewhat horrified at some of the subjects that came up and openly discussed and laughed at.  There seems to be no subject that is taboo when we get together.

As the mom and nana, I found myself asking if I had done something different in my own messed up life could I have spared them all the pain.  Was I, in my youth, at fault for their lives and choices and hardships. 

Can you relate?

Yet, I knew that I did the best with what I had as a younger version of myself.  Isn’t that all the Lord asks of us?

As we passed the traditional candle around and talked about what we were thankful for this year you could see Jesus in their midst.  You could hear the growth in some and still see fear in some.  I could see those guests who were instantly nervous and could think of nothing they were thankful for, and listened to my grand kids who used to say they were thankful for Disneyland, but now they talked about how thankful they were for family and that we were all together.

I don’t mean to pop your bubble, but we are all a beautiful mess.  There is no perfect family.

joseph-in-the-pitThe Bible tells us of many dysfunctional families.  Today I want us to look at  Joseph’s family. 

You remember the story?

Joseph grew up in a dysfunctional family.
His father Jacob had four wives.  He had 11 brothers scattered among those four wives.
He had one full brother, the youngest child of all, Benjamin.

With all of that, there is bound to be trouble–and there was.

Genesis 37:3 says that Joseph was his father’s favorite son—the son of his old age.  It means he was the first son by Rachel, the woman Jacob always loved.

Joseph was always his favorite.  All the brothers knew it.

Jacob’s family was a disaster waiting to happen and indeed it did happen.

His family looked like this:

1 father, 4 mothers, 12 brothers plus one daughter (Dinah).  And one favorite son.

Trouble is brewing right under the surface in Jacob’s complicated family.

Out of it will come Joseph who many years down the road will rescue the brothers who betrayed him.  As the story opens, there is no reason—none at all—to see any of this in advance.  At the beginning, we mostly see dark clouds on the horizon.

Here is his story in one paragraph

josephHe was the favored son of his father Jacob.  When he enters the stage of biblical history, he is 17 years old. Because his brothers hated him, he was sold as a slave and taken to Egypt.  After being falsely accused of rape, he was imprisoned with no hope of getting out.  Because he correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he became the prime minister of Egypt.  Eventually he welcomed his family to Egypt, which preserved the line of promise that had started with his great-grandfather Abraham.

And that brief summary only hints at the drama that surrounded his life.

And so now we look at you.

Your background is no impediment to serving God.  There is no excuse imaginable for you to blame your childhood for your behavior today.  Nor can you truthfully say that God will never use you because you are too broken.

Joseph came from a family that was in many ways “out of bounds.” It certainly was not a neat, clean, one man-one woman nuclear family. He was born into a family where jealousy, comparison, and distrust were the rules of the game.  It was not a happy family.

Yet God chose Joseph and used him mightily.

Though Joseph was God’s man, he did not have an easy life.

 Here are some of the things his story teaches us:

553486_415888875110718_1880467937_nTrusting God when in the pit of despair.

How to deal with sexual temptation.

How to redeem a painful past.

What to do while you wait.

How to see God’s hand in all things.

How to make wise plans.

How God awakens a guilty conscience.

The marks of true repentance.

How to live for God in a pagan culture.

Overcoming lingering bitterness.

How to die well.

Not many of us come from perfect families.  Actually, none of us do because there is no such thing.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14).

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

The real problems we face are not “out there.”
They are always “in here”, on the inside.
That’s where we fight our greatest battles.

This world is a messed-up place, and the most messed-up part lies inside the human heart.

emotional-pain

That’s one reason we know the Bible is true.  It speaks the truth about the human condition.  It doesn’t lie to us about our “unlimited potential” or tell us that we are basically okay the way we are at the moment.  It tells us we are okay and accepted into the beloved lap of God because Jesus paved the way for us.

What prevents us from simply accepting this and being awesomely grateful that nothing that has ever happened to us can prevent us from walking right into His perfect plan for our lives?

This is where the truth that Jesus spoke becomes so incredibly relevant.  He didn’t make us feel good and then say, “Just try harder and you will be okay.”

“For there is no difference.” (Romans 3:22b)

No difference between rich and poor.
No difference between religious and pagan.
No difference between Jew and Gentile.
No difference between young and old.
No difference between housewife and harlot.
No difference between criminal and choirboy.
No difference between American and Kenyan.

We’re all in the same boat, and unless God does something, we’re all going to sink together.  And He did!!  

Because of Jesus!

We are all broken people.  Some of us know it, some of us don’t.

If you can relate, this story is for you.
If you come from a broken home, this story is for you.
If you don’t get along with your brothers and sisters, this story is for you.
If you were abused, this story is for you.
If your friends lied to you, this story is for you.
If you’ve done jail time, this story is for you.
If your family doesn’t understand you, this story is for you.

Life isn’t easy for any of us, and for most of us it can be quite difficult. To say it another way, anyone looking for an easy life has picked the wrong planet to be born on.

Since God Himself stands behind the universe He created, we should not be surprised to find His fingerprints everywhere, even in the tiniest details of life.

Christ is the power to make life worthwhile.  Note that I did not say that Christ “has” the power, which is true, but that Christ “is” the power, which is slightly different.

Because Jesus Himself lives in us, He Himself is the power that gives meaning and purpose to life.

The hero, Joseph, arises out of the turmoil of a dysfunctional family. His brothers don’t like him.  There is trouble on the horizon.

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nJoseph proves you can come from a crazy, mixed-up family and do amazing things for the Lord!