Monday, April 27, 2015

The Citizen's Band

My brothers and I grew up during the golden era of the CB radio. I remember having these fancy radios in our cars and they provided all kinds of entertainment during long road trips. We would figure out which channel had the most traffic and tune in to hear the long haul truckers banter back and forth. Usually it was “channel 19”, so channel 19 on our CB radio became known as “The Learning Channel”.
The trouble with the CB radio was indicated in the name. “CB” stands for Citizens Band and any one with the gumption to plug in the radio can get on and say whatever is on their mind. Many times we would find ourselves on the receiving end of some colorful radio rants against our misuse of the “Citizen’s Band”. The serious radio operators didn’t appreciate us littering their airwaves with funny impersonations and roadside observations. Our silliness was disruptive and caused confusion and we really didn’t care.
It seems there are a lot of voices these days that are being amplified, they have a message and they’re delivering it loud and clear; but should we give their voice a place of authority over our life? 
 This morning I woke up to see Kim Kardashian on the morning news. She was being interviewed as if she is a head of state when in reality she is only a spokesperson for her family on the subject of her step father’s new gender revelations.
The media shows such reverence and respect to anyone who will deliver their talking points. They will give platform to anyone who will stand and be a spokesperson for their brand of morality; thus lending their choice of voices a worldly authority.
For many, this bombardment can be very confusing when it seems our entire culture, even Christian culture shifts and begins marching to the beat of the loudest drum. How do we get clarity on this chaotic “Citizen’s Band”? How can we discern between the amplified voices and the Voice of authority?

Well, The Word of God is the best place to start.

In Mark 9:2-8 we see the account of the transfiguration of Jesus.

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, and His clothes became dazzling – extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah’ because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified.
A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud:
This is My beloved Son;
   Listen to Him!

Then suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.”

Jesus was revealing His glory, as God, to the disciples. They were awestruck and fearful at the sight of Moses and Elijah there with this bright and glorified Jesus! Their reaction was to say, “Great! We’ll build three tabernacles here! One for Jesus, one for Moses and another for Elijah!”
             God Himself created a whole different station for the disciples to listen to. He gave them Jesus, God the Son. God was showing Peter, James and John that moving forward as disciples there should be no question in their hearts whether or not the man they were following had the authority to lead them. In verse 7 it says a cloud overshadowed them and a voice coming from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son; LISTEN TO HIM!”
            I heard that call this morning in my Spirit when I prayed, “Wow, God there are so many messages out there about everything, how do we stand! How should we respond?”
            He points to Jesus, His only Son! Jesus lived to please the Father, He gave His life for this sinful world, for me. Look to Jesus, Listen to Jesus! As followers, we have to tune out the voices that are not speaking truth, trust in His word and keep following. 
            “Then suddenly,” it says, that the disciples were looking around and no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone. In Matthew it says that they fell on their face before Him.
It comes down to whom we’re living for. Whom and what are we worshipping? Whatever we worship will have the most influence over our life, those voices will speak loudest, drowning out all others. Jesus made it clear for His disciples, and He offers us the same clarity – there is no other standing, there is no one more worthy than Jesus. He is the ultimate authority on all things. He is Lord of all. Seek Him with your whole heart today.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.“ Philippians 4:9-8

May the God of peace be with you today as you continue in your walk with Jesus.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday School Answers

 I don’t ever write on Sunday. We are always involved in worship and preparing for worship. But a word has been stirring in my heart all weekend; then this morning I wake up to see grieving families standing at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and my brothers in Christ lined up along the beach ready to give up their lives for their faith. The gravity of these events has pressed my heart and the conviction God has been giving is even clearer to me now.
It was actually just a funny story that provoked a thought. On Friday I take guitar lessons. My instructor, Ernie is also a worship leader and he helps me develop the songs that I lead on Sunday. We got to laughing about the lyrics of an song. He said, “That reminds me of when I was a kid and all I knew was to give Sunday School answers.”

Any kid that grew up in church knows what Sunday School answers are. No matter what question the teacher is asking the answer is going to be one of a few options. Kind of like guessing on a multiple choice test, only instead of guessing “A”, “B” or “C” the answers are “The Bible”, “God”, or “Jesus”.

He said one Sunday when he was a little boy in Sunday School his teacher told the class, “I’m going to describe something and I want you to tell me what you think it is that I’m describing.” The teacher went on to ask, “What can run real fast, it’s covered in fur, it likes to eat nuts, it lives in a tree and has a big bushy tail.”

Ernie said, “It sounded like she was describing a squirrel! I wanted to say squirrel so bad, but since we were in Sunday School I raised my hand and answered, ‘JESUS!’”

I grew up listening to the Andrae Crouch song, “Jesus is the Answer”. My parents had it on 8-track and would rock out to it in our station wagon. We sang the song in church, and I grew up believing every word.

“Jesus is the answer for the world today, Above Him there’s no other. Jesus is the way.”

But deep down I wondered what it really means. How does singing about Jesus solve the big problems our world is facing today? The answer is, it doesn't. 

I have learned that my Sunday School answers aren’t enough anymore. I believe that Jesus is the answer, and it has to become more than a line in a song to me. These words have become my marching orders.

We go to the dark places. We live sacrificially. We obey though faith is required and we love the un loveable, because of Jesus. It’s not enough to just read about Him, and know who He is. He has called us to bear witness to His power with our life.

It’s what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 6:19-20 when he said, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”

 I am going to begin praying for the same thing as Paul, that when I open my mouth to speak, that the mystery of the Gospel will be made known. As an ambassador of this message, I pray God will continue to send me out and give me the courage to speak and live as I should. To say and do the hard things, and to demonstrate with my life what my heart believes. The answer is Jesus!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Process

Ugly, grueling and often times humiliating; these are the words that could describe the process. The process is the progression of events that take place between the beginning of something and the end result. It’s in this space between that dues are paid, bootstraps become frayed and battles must be fought and won in order to press forward.

My father was an artist. He started sculpting when we lived in Alaska, to occupy his mind during the long dark days of winter. One winter he sculpted the scene of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac was tied to a rock, Abraham had his hand lifted in preparation to sacrifice his only son. Behind Abraham whose face was lifted towards heaven, was the ram - the sacrifice that the Lord provided to take Isaacs place.
As a child I remember watching this sculpture come to life.                

The clay comes out of the package and it needs to be softened. Dad would hand me a block to roll into a ball. It kept me busy and kept him in pliable clay.
He would build the rudimentary structure underneath out of wire and sometimes he would use toothpicks. These were the bones of his sculpture. Slabs of clay were layered over these bones, and then he would begin smoothing and shaping.

He had commandeered the kitchen table for this project, so my brothers and I had front row seats. Dad would let us work next to him to make our own sculptures. We would take a ball of clay, roll it out into the shape of a snake, give it eyes then ask Dad to look up, “Is this good?” we’d ask. “Look what I made!”

He’d take a glance and just keep working. We probably made five hundred snakes and disproportioned clown faces in the same amount of time that he made his Abraham and Isaac sculpture. He had a vision and committed himself to the process. The end result was a treasured, meaningful work of art.
Every body can be a beginner, everyone wants to experience the glory, but only the focused and determined heart can endure the process.
This is what we miss out on in a prepackaged, instant success world; we miss out on learning to run with endurance through the process. We miss out accomplishing great things, we settle for less because we fear the process.
Here are some things to think about, that will hopefully keep you going, wherever you are in your process.

1.) Expect the Process
            The Bible tells us it came as quite a shock to the children of Israel upon hearing the report that giants currently occupied their promised land! Then they were told that it was no big deal because God would fight for them and help them to possess the land if they would only trust in Him. No doubt they imagined just walking right in and taking over this land, but God had other plans.
            God knows the dreams and ambitions we have, He also knows how we need to be equipped and how reliant we will need to be upon Him once we arrive. In the book of James he tells us to “Count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 The process is inevitable and necessary if we want to realize Godly success.

2.) Engage in the Process
            I started out in college as a nursing student. I was able to get by my first year, but in the second year it became clear to me that God had other plans for my life. What I didn’t understand about being a nursing student is that you don’t just go to class, take notes then go home. The best nursing students are the ones who stay late in the lab, draw their own anatomy flash cards, sign up for extra courses and work part time in the nursing field as they are going through their course work. These fully immersed students graduate with more than a license to practice nursing they have become excellent nurses.
            It is an act of faith to stop fighting and engage in God’s process. When we have joy and take heart we are showing the world that we trust in God’s plan, we are standing and walking in the belief that He will keep His word. However, sometimes I get so focused on graduating out of the process I forget to take in the education I’m receiving along the way.
             Time and again, when I have come out on the other side of a storm in life I’ve wished to go back and take better notes. It becomes more clear that every trial had it’s purpose and the experiences, good, bad and humiliating were necessary.
In James 1:4 we find this instruction, “But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
          I think this is why I love to write so much. It keeps me engaged in the process; it keeps me attentive to the hand of God on my life as He does His perfecting work. Whatever you are going through, don’t miss out on the treasures God is revealing every day.

3.) Endure Through the Process
            Can I remind you of the grand prize for those who finish well? James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
            Whenever my dad would finish a sculpture he would take a ball of clay, press his thumb into it and fix it onto the back of his work of art. This was his signature, and there was no denying that fat thumbprint belonged to Don Lane. His signature showed that this one-of-a kind work of art was complete and approved by the artist.
            One day I’m going to stand in the presence of Jesus. I’m not going to just roll off of an assembly line at the Christ follower plant to be passed over and inspected by a heavenly factory worker. No, Jesus has been creating me since before I was born. He gave His own life so that mine could be redeemed and made beautiful, into His likeness, used for His divine purpose. He has used many processes to shape, mold and refine me. One day I’ll stand before Him, to receive the crown of life.
            God is calling you to do great things! Don’t trust the process trust Jesus. Hold fast to His word and look forward to one day seeing the fruit of the seeds you will plant today.