Wandering down the road

The Road Less Traveled: A Short Story | by Jonny Parker, MBA | Medium

So where does this lead me? Where is the road that I’m traveling take me? I’m not sure. This road I’m traveling, I’ve never been down before. I’ve seen other people travel it, but I’ve only watched from the sidelines. Never walked the road myself. But here I am, walking down the road I never thought I’d travel.

But I’m not alone on this road. People come and go. I meet people that soon leave and another will come later. Some are on the journey for just a short time and I imagine others will be here for the long haul. Some I may know, others could be complete strangers and we will just cross paths for a short time.

As I was thinking about this journey, I recalled Luke 24:13-33

That same day two of Jesus’ disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. AS they were talking and thinking about what had happened, Jesus came near and started walking beside them. But they did not know who he was.

Luke 24:13-16

I know that as I walk this journey, Jesus will be walking it with me. Sometimes I may know and see him clearly along side me. Other times I imagine I will not recognize him. But I know that He is with me always.

Even though the disciples did not yet recognize him, he explained everything written about him in the Scriptures. Even though I may not recognize him walking with me always, he is always working for my good and for the Father’s will. I know that despite my inability to always recognize where Jesus is working and walking alongside me, he is there.

Let God Take Control

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Let God take control. Those words are often easier said than done. I wish I could sit here and tell you that I’m perfectly in tune with what God is doing and that I’m just sitting back letting him handle everything. I wish I could sit here and tell you there is no fear. But I can’t.

What I can do, is pray that I live each day to it’s fullest. That I can let go of the worry and stress and fear. That I can fully trust Him in all things. I know I’ll have days that are better than others. I know that some days I’ll be able to give him control over all most things, but there will be day that I won’t.

But in reality, I don’t have control over anything. I can’t control what is happening inside my body. I can’t control how well the treatment may or may not work. The doctors, while they have a plan of action, can’t tell me for sure that these treatments will work. All I can do is follow what the doctors say and pray that the doctors are doing there best to give me the best treatment they can.

But guess who is complete control. That’s right, God is in control, whether I “give” him control of anything or not. The God that created the universe, knows my name and is control of my healing. If I’m healed, he will use that for his glory as we can praise him for his miraculous healing. If healing doesn’t come, then He can use that for his glory as he gives me the strength to fight and to endure.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

So “giving” my troubles to God is really acknowledging that he already has control. I’m not giving Him anything. That realization though does bring me comfort and peace. It allows me to be open to the opportunities he is placing in front of me through all this. It allows me to be attentive to the needs of others and how I can possibly help them through their own time of difficulties.

So in the months and years ahead of me as I fight this battle. I pray that I always remember that God is already in control and I just need to let him be God.

It’s Who’s in the Fire with you that matters

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Bible Story Verses and ...

Been going through a lot of tests, consultations, and prep for the treatment that is upcoming for me. Through all those meetings, my strive to live with No Fear is put to the test. Fear comes in waves, which then turns into depression, which then thankfully returns to resolve and fearlessness.

But what (or should I say who) gives us this ability to live without fear and when fear comes we can follow right back to that place of no fear?

Well I think we all know where this is going. The answer of course is our Lord Jesus!! With him beside me, I can be assured that he has a plan and that his plan cannot be denied.

Most of us know the story of  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that everyone bow down and worship his gods.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to do so;

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” -Daniel 3:16-18

They were confident that God would save them, but even if He didn’t, they refused to serve any other gods.

King Nebuchadnezzar was furious and ordered that the three be thrown in a blazing furnace. So in they went, but then very quickly the King jumps up in surprise;

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” -Daniel 3:24-25

The King saw four men walking around in the furnace. Who was the extra person? This is Jesus walking in the fire with them. When the King orders them out, the three come out completely unharmed.

When Jesus walks in the fire with us, we can come out unharmed. Jesus is with me during all my tests, prep and consultations. He was with me last week when I had my surgery. While I still have to walk through flames, Jesus is there with me, carrying my burden and protecting me.

What a great feeling knowing that when I’m feeling all alone as I go through these struggles, I’m really not. Jesus is there with me!!

Praise Jesus for that!

Even in the Darkest of Hours

God's Darkest Hours | God, Joseph of arimathea, Spiritual ...

So today was one that I won’t soon forget. Today they confirmed my worse fears of cancer (yes the cat’s out of the bag now….sorry if this is the first you’ve heard about as I just couldn’t tell everyone yet). I begin the journey now to treatment. I’m a man of action, so give me a plan and lets take action on it. But needless to say, it’s not been the best day.

But as I stated in my last post, I’m striving to live life without fear. God has a plan for me and I need to be obedient to it. In future posts, I plan on sharing some of the ways that God has already moved in the last week or so. There have been so many people that I’ve crossed paths with that I’ve been able to give praise to God in what should have been my darkest hour.

God promises us that he will never leave us, that we can never be separated from his love:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

Jesus provides that light that I can grasp onto and cling to and move towards no matter. This is something we can be assured of as no darkness can overtake the light of Christ, not even our darkest hours.

Jesus…said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

And when we hold on to Christ, that light transfers to us. We have a light in us that can be a beacon to others. But CS Lewis said it best once;

Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him. -C.S. Lewis

Our light doesn’t lead people to ourselves, bu through us others can see Christ. Those are some of the stories I want to be sharing in future posts. Where I was able to shine that light and others saw Christ because of my darkest hour.

No Fear

No Fear - Perspectives of a Bondservant

I’ve been dealing with some health issues for a few years now. I’ve never talked about it on here as I’ve always been a bit private about my health and to be honest, I was probably scared and in a bit of denial that I figured talking about it here would make it real.

The last 6 months or so have been really rough as the issues have gotten worse and become more visible. To the point where shortly after my daughter’s wedding in May, I had my yearly checkup and the found I was anemic, which prompted more tests and more pills and more anxiety.

Fast forward to the end of August and here we are with the health problems becoming real and something that needs to be dealt with. I won’t go into the details here in this post, as I plan to write more and more about my struggles, my fears, my health and my healing.

Why do I think there is healing already? Because we are instructed to live without fear, but how can we really do that? Well that’s what my future posts will talk about. It’s something I’m not perfect at and am still learning to understand and follow, but one of my Christian friends has repeatedly sent me messages that often simply say “No Fear”. He wakes up every morning and lives the day without fear.

But how can we really live without fear? Well when we became a follower of Jesus Christ, he changes everything. Any by everything, I mean everything.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -2 Timothy 1:7

God changed everything. He gave us a spirit of power, love and self-control. We need not fear when we have the Holy Spirit working in us!!

He isn’t asking us to the do the impossible, or even something too awful difficult. He made it all possible for us when we accepted the Holy Spirit into our lives.

One thing I always remember, whenever I start to find fear creeping back into my mind, the following verse always comes to mind.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

So stick with me, I plan to become and open book over the next few months. You’ll learn more about me and my problems than maybe you care to know…however, we’ll always look at how God is present in these situations. I have so many good stories to tell, just over the last week which undoubtedly has been on of the worse weeks of my life so far. But God has shown through over and over again.

I also want to be available to anyone that needs someone to talk to, whether they struggle with fear, struggle with similar health issues or whatever. I want you to know that I can listen, I can pray for and with you and I can tell you what I know of God’s power and how it has worked in my life and can work in yours.

I look forward to this new adventure, no matter how much my human mind may fear it, I look forward to see where God is going to lead me and seeing what he will be using me for.

God bless you all, and stay tuned.

The year that the church left the building

Happy New Year 2021 Images Free Download | New Year 2021 ...

Happy New Year everyone! Here we are again at a new year and I know many of you may be happy to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. We are all hoping that 2021 is a better year, but remember we move just one day at a time. And each and every day is a gift from God.

This past year may not have been a good one for many, but looking back on it, I can see God moving in so many ways. We are still living in the midst of a pandemic, but God has provided for so many. He has given us hope, he has provided for our needs, he has heard our prayers, his word is spreading.

The motto for me this year has been, “The Church has left the building.” For obvious reasons, many churches have moved to on-line services and while I love to see people face to face, the Church is not the building, it’s you and me. Many have moved closer to the first churches we read about in the book of Acts. Many small gatherings in peoples homes sprung up, many being virtual (thanks to God for providing the technology to still meet safely in this fashion).

I’ve been a part of a men’s Bible study group (again on-line) with some great men that I now consider my brothers. This group, men who are local and currently attend our church, has been meeting weekly since before the pandemic started and we’ve been able to continue on virtually. This study group has helped me to recharge each week and grow stronger in my faith and knowledge of God’s word.

Despite this year, churches are still being planted. My home church, RiverTree Fairless, began this past October meeting in person and it’s been growing week after week. While there are already a lot of great churches in the area, we still see so much opportunity to work in partnership with the other churches and the community as a whole to bring the light of Christ to our area. We may meet like most churches on Sunday mornings, but we see this not as a service, but a celebration. A time to recharge and fuel us for the upcoming week, because truly the Church has left the building.

So now I sit here on the first day of 2021 and am thanking God that I’m still here to do his work. Will everything magically change today? Will the fears, threats and hardships that we’ve seen this past year suddenly disappear? No, it won’t. In fact, I suspect that things will continue on much like they are now. But here are a few things that we can start or continue to do that will make 2021 the best year yet.

Continue to trust in God. This is a given but an important thing. We have faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us on the cross. God is in control and always will be. While each year brings change, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Expect God to make this the best year yet. The God that created the universe, but knows our name can of course make this they best year yet. In fact, wake up each morning for making the coming day the best day yet. Each church celebration, thank God for making it the best one yet. Every time you spend quiet time with the Lord, start off by giving thanks for making it the best quiet time yet. If we thank God ahead of time, He most often will make it the best ever.

Be still and know that He is God. I often hear that God doesn’t perform miracles today like we read about in the Bible. But I feel that he might, we are just too distracted to notice. All the media, the work, the activities… all these signals coming at us can block out the still quiet voice of God. We may just not be in-tune with the voice of God enough to see everything that He is doing.

Be a part of God’s work, not just a spectator. God doesn’t need us to help him with his work. He could do it just fine without us. But he wants to share in his knowledge and the joy of his work. Just as a father wants his young son to help him work on the car, even though it will likely slow down the work, God to loves us enough to want to include us in his work.

Remember that the church has left the building. Even when we all can come together again in worship. When all the restrictions are lifted, let’s not forget that what we’ve learned through this last year. We are the church, not the building. Let’s not fall into the trap of being weekend Christians. Let’s make it a 24-7, 365 thing.

I’m hoping we all have the best year yet in 2021. I know God wants the same for us. God bless you all and I’m excited to see how God works in all of us this coming year.

Wonderful Impossibility

The Birth of Jesus Christ from Matthew & Luke, With Timeline

Celebrating this Christmas season remembering the birth of Jesus, I want to think just about the impossibility of the whole thing.

First we have Mary, a virgin, probably a young teenager whom conceives the son of God.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will receive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” -Luke 1:30-31

Mary, obviously feeling a little confused responds with a question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” -Luke 1:34

This should be impossible by all our understanding. But not for God,

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” -Luke 1: 35-37

The birth of Jesus was just not a difficulty to overcome, it was an impossibility. Mary was a virgin so this could happen. But only God can breathe life into her womb.

Isn’t that amazing? God did not just do something that was difficult, he did something that was impossible. So there was no doubt that this was a miracle from God.

This quote from the Lord Coggan, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1970s speaks of this characteristic of God.

When God intends to make something wonderful he begins with a difficulty. When he intends to make something very wonderful, he begins with an impossibility.

God loves to work in the very wonderful. The impossible works that he does shows the power and glory of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21

Just as God caused the impossible in Mary many, many years ago, so God can accomplish the seemingly impossible things in your life.

Merry Christmas everyone. May God bless you and show his power over the impossible.

Who do you say I am?

Maybe one of the most important questions we face as Christians comes from Mark 8:29 where it reads;

He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” -Mark 8:29

Jesus was with the disciples near the northern city of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus first asked them, “Who do people say I am?”.

They answered with different answers, “John the Baptist”, “Elijah” or one of the other prophets. Jesus turns then to his closest disciples and asks the question above, which Peter answers.

Really think about that question. Doesn’t all of Christianity boil down that? We can spend a lifetime studying theology…but we each have to answer for ourselves the question of “Who do you say I am?”

Was he just a good teacher? A prophet? Did he even exist at all? We have to look at his teachings and how he identifies himself as Lord. We have to wrestle with the what his death and resurrection means. Then we can answer the question of “Who do you say I am?”

How we answer that can change our lives. We will believe his teaching and live them out if we see him as a teacher. We serve him as the one who brings God’s kingdom to earth when we call him Messiah. We put our full faith in him when we call him our Savior. We will fall before him in worship when we determine he is the Son of God.

We will be confronted with the question “Who do you say I am?” at some point in our lives. Do we see Jesus how he truly is? Are we ready to answer?

Our God

When thinking about the attributes of our God, I tend to put him in a box. Put limits on what he can and can’t do. I forget sometimes, what it means to be the creator of the universe.

I know all the Biblical stories. Jesus turning water into wine, the healings, the raising of the dead….he himself conquering death and rose after three days.

I know the power of God, I mean he created the universe after all. But then I fall into the trap of thinking he can’t solve my small problem, so I need to fix it myself. I run around, looking for solutions, failing at implementing them and then trying again. Over and over. All the while, that quiet voice that God tends to speak to us in, he’s saying to me… “I got this Jason, just trust me!”

My favorite line in this song by Chris Tomlin is;

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

I mean really….doesn’t that say it all? Our God is for us, that is more than evident when I read my Bible or look back over my life. Then why do I think something will stop me. That something will stop what God has ordained. That something will stop the healing, the comfort, the learning, the growing. Who has the power to stop God?

And if he’s with us. Walking day in and day out alongside me. What can stand in my way if I’m following the path that He’s set for me? I’m won’t be tripped up if I follow in the footsteps of Christ. I won’t be led astray if I keep my eyes on Jesus. Nothing can stand against me.

Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. Our God is awesome in power. May we always and forever remember that.

It’s not what you do, it who you do it for

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24

It’s not what you do, it who you do it for. That is what this verse is saying. Does this change the way you look at your daily work? Whether you are a pastor, a doctor, a mechanic or a garbage man, it’s how you look at your work and how you perform your work that matters.

No matter what your station in life, this perspective will give you purpose in what you do. A few years back I wrote a post entitled God, the Ultimate Software Developer. We see that God wants us to enjoy our work. That he gave us the talent, the strength, the intelligence, whatever it is we need to do a good job and to enjoy it.

God puts us in places during different seasons of our lives where we can make an impact. A large part of our impact can be the way we perform the work we do. When we realize that we are working for Christ, we will work with more vigor, with more joy and others will notice. Others will see your joy and want to know where it comes from. It comes from serving our Lord wherever he places us doing what he has gifted us to do.

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