Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, February 24, 2012
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. …. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” … And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11 (ESV)
I love the sea. I draw a great deal of inspiration from my time of being around the sea, along with catching up on some fresh seafood. As I write this devotional, I do so after having spent some time on a Florida beach. It is winter, so the beach is relatively deserted of tourists, which delights me. There's a reason. It can be cold one day and nice the next. Even so, I love it. I love the food, the “real” locals, the beauty of the sun bouncing its rays off the water, and the sounds of seagulls calling to each other. Can there be a better place to enjoy rest, recovery and recreation? Not for me.
Having lived for several years on the Southern Gulf Coast, I am experienced with gigging flounders, running crab traps, speckled trout and redfish fishing. I've camped on barren islands in the Gulf, wade-fished in their surf, had sharks swim through my legs to steal a fish off my hook, and have been boat-wrecked at one time on one of these islands. I've gathered oysters from an inland lagoon at low tide and shucked the oysters for dinner around a campfire while on one of these barrier islands in the Gulf. However, I am only a hobbyist when it comes to living off the sea. However, I think you can understand that I could appreciate what a professional fishermen must do day in and day out to make a living from the sea. It is hard, dangerous work and not something I would want to do for a living. A lot has changed about the industry, the people and the area I once lived in and it makes me sad to see these changes. But, it made quite an impression on me while I lived there.
When I lived on the Mississippi Gulf coast back in the 70’s and 80’s, most of the fishermen of that day were 3rd or 4thgeneration European immigrants who settled in the area and became shrimpers, oyster harvesters or worked in the seafood industry in some way. They lived a hard life, and were hardened by their work and the elements they had to overcome in order to make a living. Families were tight-knit in the “Back-Bay” area of Biloxi. Not many outsiders made it into the tight circles formed by these families. If you did, you were special, and when you were accepted, a lifelong bond of friendship was formed. Even so, you knew never to treat one of these men unfair, for “your enemy is my enemy” is a code these close-knit families lived by. I'm probably describing a multitude of other ethnic communities across our nation who live by a similar code. I'm also likely describing a similar code the fishermen, Peter, James, John and Andrew must have lived by before Christ walked into their life. You see, being typical professional fisherman, their's is a culture most other fishermen around the world have lived by for centuries. It helps to understand the culture these guys came from, and especially Peter, to understand how Christ so drastically altered their lives. These men not only left their boats to follow Christ, they also left a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of acting, and the tight-knit, independent code they had lived by all of their lives, along with the comfort of a well-established, predictable culture. It is obvious that there was a compelling reason for these men to take that first step in sojourning with Christ, and then never return to being the men they once were? What could it have been? Let's take Simon Peter for example:
If you were to meet one of those good ole boys I spoke of who lived on Back Bay Biloxi, you would likely meet a good representation of Simon the fisherman, before Christ changed him. Our guy would be impatient to offload his catch of the day, so don't expect much conversation, and don't get in his way or you'll hear expletives that will curl your ears and make a Marine D. I. envious. The fact is, he wouldn't talk much anyway even on a good day, except to friends, for the man is bigoted against the outsiders I mentioned. However, his shunning of you wouldn't be about race, for he is an equal opportunity bigot and color doesn't matter. It would be because you didn't grow up on “da Bay,” and unless you are in his tight circle, he has no time for you. Likewise, Simon, the fisherman, was a bigot against outsiders. He hated Gentiles, tax-collectors, Romans and inland mariners with good ideas about fishing. Can you imagine how Simon would react if just any inland carpenter told him how to fish by telling him to go back out to the place he had just left to lower his nets in the deep water? If it had been you or me, he would likely have used us for bait, for it would be what our guy“Bubba from da Bay” would do! Can you imagine how a person with this mindset would react if he had fished all night without making a catch, only to have an outsider tell him how to fish? Man, it would be ugly by the time he unleashed his anger on us. Therefore, Jesus must have made a terrific impression with His sermon in Simon's boat, based on the way he reacted to Christ's suggestion to go back out to the deep water? Simon didn't show anger, although he did show doubt that Jesus knew what He was talking about. This respect in itself would be a departure from the norm, and is an indication that Simon (Peter) was taking a baby step in the right direction, which was rewarded greatly. And this step in the right direction was followed up by many more steps in the right direction, as Simon followed Christ for the rest of his life and became Peter.
There is an interesting indication what Jesus would do with Simon the fisherman from the time He first met him. Look at the following verse and see if you pick it up:
… Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). John 1: 42 (ESV)
Now grab these particular words from the text: “You are Simon… you shall be ....” Although I think the nickname Jesus gave to Peter was personal and special as with the others who were nicknamed by Him, I believe Jesus was indicating something far deeper would happen to Peter than just giving him a nickname. I believe Jesus in essence was saying:
“Simon, you are at present a hard nose, stubborn bigot who has been intimidating others throughout your life, and you have greatly limited your influence because of it. You are a natural born leader, for people are drawn to your confidence and courage, but you will lead them astray if you yourself are not led rightly. Simon, you are all of these things and they will stand against the great capabilities you could have. But, and this is a big but, I will change these things about you. Yes, I receive you as you are right now and I require only your faith. But, you must not remain the way you are. Simon, in asking you to join Me, I do not see these present things about you as standing in the way of My love for you, for I see the Peter who will one day overcome his prejudice and reach to the Gentiles. I see the Peter who will lead a Roman officer to know and embrace Me. I see the Peter who will stand before a large gathering of people and share his faith so convincingly that over 3,000 will come to know Me. I see the Peter who will stand down the religious holier-than-thou leaders of this day, as they connect that you have been with Me. I see the Peter who will honor me in his death by asking to be crucified upside down because he doesn't count himself worthy to share My own crucifixion. I see the Peter, I will one day build my Church on. Simon, you will be this Rock, and this man will be a man after My own heart. You are right now Simon. But, you will one day be Peter My Rock, when I transform you into this man.”
Simon was transformed by Christ into Peter, and we know the rest of the story. But, it doesn't stop with Peter. It can go to “Bubba at da Bay,” and you and me as well. If it could happen with Simon Peter, it could happen with the most unlikely person. What did Simon do to become the man Jesus made of him? He took a baby step in the right direction, and followed it up with some other steps in faith. It required a little faith to get it started. But even a little faith can move mountains. So, come on. Get out of the boat, and take that baby step toward Jesus. There's a Peter in you wanting to emerge from the Bubba that you now are, and it starts with that first step you will take toward Christ. So, come on Bubba, take the step.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, February 17, 2012
The Widow's Penny
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)
I have several friends regarded as wealthy by the world's standards, but much more so, they are wealthy by Heaven's standards. They are generous with their great resources, with their time and with their encouragement to all people. They never measure another man by his financial status, nor consider their wealth to be a determiner of their true value. They are as satisfied hanging out with a blue color laborer, as they are with a Fortune 500 CEO ... maybe more so. These men are wealthy in ways the world cannot understand, for they are royalty because they are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and a member of the Royal Priesthood. If you haven't heard this term before, look it up in 1 Peter 2:9. It will help you understand my illustration.
I also have several friends who are regarded as poor by the world's standard, but by Heaven's standard they are rich, for they are also of royalty. They are generous with their time and their limited resources. They envy no man because of his wealth, for they too do not value others or themselves based on net worth. In fact, they would rather live in their poverty than to become wealthy, if it means they would lose the joy that permeates their life. Their's is a richness the world cannot understand, and certainly does not give them. In common with the rich man and the poor man are the riches Christ has given to them that are not limited by being subject to theft, the reversal of the economy, or the fluctuations of the best investment strategy a money manager can design. They have the Treasure of the Universe, they put their trust in Heaven's Treasury, and nothing, I mean nothing can compare with it. How about you? If you say you are a disciple of Christ, does the way you use your wealth or poverty prove it? Where does your treasure really lie? Based on the example of the poor widow andthe way she used her poverty (or was it wealth), it is obvious that Jesus had an opinion about her, and it was good. What is His opinion of you, which is something we should seek His answer on?
Then there is another set of acquaintances that are as greedy and self seeking as anyone out there. What is in common with these men is their love of money and their willingness to use and discard anyone to build and protect their fortune. They have an insatiable desire to accumulate as much wealth as possible, even though it is more than they could ever spend. It would be hard to separate the style of these men, for they are narcissistic, consumed by their “above others status,” and benevolent only if it is a good tax break, business deal, or puts their name on a building. They look and act like birds of the same feather. But what is different about them is that one man declares there is no God and lives his life for himself because of it. The other man declares there is a God and is a Christ follower, but he also lives life for himself and acts as if his relationship with Christ and the stewardship of God's resources entrusted to him are irrelevant. Of the two, it is this last guy that I pity more, for he is as impoverished as anyone can be and doesn't realize it. He is like a man swimming with a load of gold over deep water, and his gold will eventually drown him unless he releases it. Like I said, I pity this person, for he lives in spiritual poverty, and no matter how much wealth he accumulates, the path he travels will lead to great disappointment. Concerning this man and people like him, I get really upset when I see churches and other ministries courting these rich men like a beggar would, hoping he will throw some of his riches their way. They are less concerned with his heart condition, than his money. Wouldn't Jesus rather we were more interested in the man's soul than his pocketbook? If we were, he might get a clear message that we place no greater value on him than we do the poor woman who can give only a penny. Both the rich man and the Church need to reevaluate our perspective toward wealth, and take a lesson from Christ and the widow.
The truth is, I think God's family needs to look at Christ's view of the use of wealth, rather than allow Madison Avenue or wealthy celebrities to dictate our perspective. When I recall the different stories and try to think of the person that stands out the most to me as faithful with their fortune, it would be the widow who had only a penny to give, but gave it. Yes, I did say “fortune” even though it was only a penny, for this penny represented a fortune to her. But, what else did that penny represent, and what can we learn from the widow? Consider:
The Widow's Penny represents a true sacrificial gift. Note Jesus informed His disciples that what she put in the offering box was everything she had, even all she had to live on.
The Widow's Penny represents absolute trust in God. When she gave her last penny, she also gave her last vestige of hope in the world's resources, so that she could receive God's provisions in return.
The Widow's Penny represents God's trust in her. This woman was regarded as a hero of the faith and Jesus pointed out that her gift was truly greater than the people who were making noise with their gold when they gave. God puts great value in our faith, and our faithfulness is most pleasing to Him.
The Widow's Penny represents a gift from the heart, which God places greater value on than an obligatory gift or gift for recognition. Note that her gift was obscure and hidden as she gave it. It was overlooked and discounted by everyone but Jesus. This is the way a heart gift looks, for it was between her and God.
The Widow's Penny represents the way God wants us to give … cheerfully, quietly, sacrificially and generously from the heart. That penny was precious to God, and as a result, it was of great value to Him.
As I process the story and hidden meanings of the Widow's Penny, I cannot help but see that most Christians in America have a struggle with understanding the true blessing it is for us to give to God's work, and whatever is given with a right heart is valued by Him. However, we have been so conditioned by a value system that exalts wealth over character, splash more than substance, and quantity more than quality. Most unfortunate is that we have allowed these values to permeate our thinking in the Church. Because of a materialistic society and celebrity worship that saturates our nation, I see some ministries buying into a hidden message that tells them that it is only the great gift and the “significant” person that they must seek out to support their ministry endeavors. Because of the culture we live in, it is easy to think that the more money one has, means greater generosity, which just isn't so. By pursuing the wealthy man, we could endorse a celebrity Christian mentality, and believe me, wealthy Christians do not need this temptation.
I believe there are two great financial burdens to carry. One is to be poor. The other is to be wealthy. One burden often drives us to our knees and to God, where we find true Treasure. The other often anesthetizes us with pleasures, and leads us away from God, where we find spiritual bankruptcy. It would be better to be poor and find God at that place than to be wealthy and be far from Him. Therefore ministries should not tempt a wealthy Christian with more ego scratching than he already has. He has enough. Do him a favor. Value him for his character and heart, not because of his pocketbook. Stay away from giving him special favor, as James said in his epistle. Speak truth to him and minister to him, even if it closes his pocketbook to you. His soul is more important to God than his money. We all need to remember this.
As a non-profit ministry that depends on donations, we should always ask ourselves if the Poor Widow of Jesus' day gave her scant offering to us, would it be appreciated for what it is, rather than what it isn't? Sure, it will be a gift that makes an insignificant dent in our ministry's budget needs. That's a given. It will not do much with funding our latest project, or with keeping our doors open. But what it is, is a gift given from the heart of a godly person. It is a gift given with great sacrifice. It is a gift from a person who in making this gift is saying in essence, “I believe in what you are doing and I want to support it the best I can.” It is a gift that brings great joy to Jesus, and one that He sees as significant. Is there any gift greater than to know God is delighted in the widow's penny, and He thinks enough of any ministry that He would inspire her to give this gift? Whether it is a rich man or poor man, and all points in between, let's not buy the lie that it is about the need to raise money from people to build a ministry. It is about raising disciples of Christ that builds a ministry. Let's make it our purpose to disciple both the rich, the poor and all people God puts before us, and God will be pleased to take care of the support that our ministry requires, for He delights in how and why we serve Him. This is how a ministry puts its penny in the collection box, and we know what Jesus's attitude is about this penny. It delights Him.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, February 10, 2012
The Process and Blessing of the Thorn
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthian 12:7-9
How would you like to be walking through a beautiful forest while having the time of your life and all of a sudden have a large thorn penetrate your side? I’m not talking about a prick on the finger. I’m talking about a thorn that deeply embeds itself, and remains a part of your life for the rest of your life. It is something that cannot be removed, and will stick you when you move in the wrong way because it has now made your side a sensitive area. During the night you might turn over in your sleep and it stabs you and wakes you. In every endeavor for the rest of your life, this thorn has to be considered, and worked around and not allowed to flare up. This would be a terrible way to live life wouldn’t it? The Apostle Paul would agree with you if your answer is yes, for it was something that lived with him, only his “thorn” was a metaphor for the reader to connect the idea of an ever-present harassment in his life. In truth, Paul’s “thorn” was an evil presence of some kind that lived with him. There’s a lot of debate over what the “thorn” was. But, it doesn’t really matter what it was, only that it had a purpose.
Some people would point to this condition in Paul who served God with all his heart and effort and ask, “Why would God allow such a thing? After all, wouldn’t Paul have been in a better condition to serve God if he hadn’t had the limitation?” Good question all of us have likely asked. The answer is, apparently not. In fact, the “thorn” was permitted to be part of Paul’s life to keep him safe from a condition that would ruin his influence, which is conceit, and to also give him another power of influence that could not be produced by a mere man. This seems rather paradoxical that a “thorn” that produces weakness would also produce a greater strength, would you agree? However, this scripture points out that God’s power in Paul’s life was made perfect in his weakness, and the “thorn” produced the weakness. How can this be? Let’s find out:
What we see in the Process of the Thorn is a strategy God uses to enable His man to accomplish great things for Him. No doubt it is not an easy burden to carry this thorn, no matter what it is. When our “thorn” is really stabbing us we cry out, “Why does this have to be this way? Lord, please remove it!” And yet the “thorn’ remains. Then we cry out, “Why won’t You remove it? I don’t understand!” But, the “thorn” still remains. Eventually we no longer ask why we have it, and for it to be removed. We simply endure the “thorn’s” stabs, until we begin to see the reason for it being with us. It takes some time, maybe a long time, before we connect the dots. It will require a whole lot of courage, surrender and trust for the blinders to fall away from our perspective so we can begin to see. However, the Blessing of the Thorn eventually comes into view as it did with the Apostle Paul, and our perspective will be changed from self-pity to thankfulness for the “thorn” God has allowed in our life. Did I mention it requires a lot of courage?
Over the last year, I have talked to many men who report they are being pruned, sifted or flat out attacked by something that harasses their peace. This harassment often disturbs their sleep, their relationships, their confidence, and life’s equilibrium. It is annoying at best, and sometimes downright disconcerting when it really digs in. Maybe you are in this group of men? If so, do not despair. You may be entering a period of life when God permits a “thorn” to join you, and this in turn will prepare the way for great blessings to flow to you and then flow through you, creating a spiritual legacy that will follow your life’s journey. I have found it to encourage God’s men to understand that this is a consistent process, and one of God’s strategies for creating His strength in a man. When we begin to have the “thorn”, our normal tendency is to not see it the way God does. Look at Paul with the way he initially handled it. He asked three times for God to remove it. He did not want the stinking thing. Three times God said no to Paul’s request. We too will ask God to remove the “thorn”. I don’t know anyone who initially embraces it. I know I didn’t. It is a natural thing for us to ask that it be removed. But, if it is not removed, the ways we respond to its presence will either create a blessing, or it will keep us locked in self-pity. It is our choice.
As with the Apostle Paul and many Believers who followed him, God prepares His man for a great fruit bearing time by reminding us of our great need to stay close to Him and depend on Him, or else the success that follows will pull us away from Him. We cannot stay close to Him if we are conceited and spiritually prideful. That was the first reason for Paul’s “thorn”, which was to keep him close to God as he invaded enemy territory. If our ego gets the best of us, and we become enamored by our success, we will be in great risk of danger, for we have walked out of the Shadow of Almighty God and into the enemy’s back yard. It would have happened with Paul had God not safeguarded him from pride by using the “thorn” strategically in his life. God was protecting His warrior from this. The “thorn” actually became a shield of protection for Paul.
The next reason for Paul’s “thorn” was to empower him with God’s power. God’s power in His man’s life, as great as it could be, will always be countered by an unwilling, prideful person’s attempts to do things for God, but not with Him, which would have been the case with Paul. Why would one do this? Go back to the first problem and the reason for the “Thorn”. It is because of our pride and conceit to think that we don’t need God’s help to get something done. We think we know what needs to be done. “Watch me work, God!” we say by our actions, while all along we grow frustrated with how truly inept we are in getting things accomplished. The fact is, there is always some frustrating obstacle that stands in the way of our plans, while we never realize that our battle is against principalities of resistance that are far stronger than our feeble attempts. Unfortunately, most of us will not admit to this or turn from this without the “thorn” humbling us, and causing us to seek God’s help. Such was the case with Paul.
So what happens to God’s man when he finally connects the dots and gets the perspective that the “thorn” has been an enabling gift rather than a debilitating one? He begins to rely on it. Look how Paul sums up his thoughts on the “thorn” when he connected the dots:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
How did Paul react? He thanked God for the “thorn.” He praised Him for what it was doing for him, rather than complaining about having it. He saw the “thorn” as a gift from God that helped him be the man he hoped to be, and to bring honor to his King. What about you? How are you handling your thorn if you have one? Are you willing to see the “thorn” God’s way and embrace it as coming from Him?
Did I mention something about courage? I sure did, for it requires courage to thank God for the “thorn” in our life. It will go against every fiber to ask God to keep it there if it will accomplish His great work in our life. But, getting the right perspective will turn those thorns into a rose garden, and this rose garden will offer a pleasant aroma to our world around us. By the way, below every rose is a thorn, and what comes from it has the aroma of godliness. Allow your King to make a godly man out of you, and the “thorn” will help accomplish this purpose.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Friday, February 03, 2012
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 - ESV
When I was growing up as a kid in Mississippi, we often used a phrase that expressed astonishment. It was “Good Grief!” Now if it were really a major event, being from Mississippi and talking “real English” like a Southerner does, like most of my friends I would accentuate the words by saying “Guuuuuud Grief! The word “good” could be stretched out up to 5 seconds to drive home our astonishment. Little wonder Southerners think there is something missing with non-southern English. It just lacks impact in describing something, and is why most of us keep to our roots, even though we get laughed at a lot. Gaaaaa-lay, why would people do that?
As good as this description is, I wonder where it comes from and how grief can really be good? Can there really be a good grief, when it seems that all grief is painful? For example, only this morning I spoke to a woman who had just buried her husband of 49 years. In her eyes I could see her grief. It was unresolved feelings with losing her mate, her lover, the father of her children, and her best friend. She is longing for him. She is missing part of her life now, and she knows it will never return. Can this kind of grief be good? What good can come from it? Today another kind of grief walked into my life. It's nothing like this woman's, but it hurts just the same. My wife and I will see our daughter and her family moving half a continent away from us, as her husband joins a church planting network there. I am very happy to know they will be serving my King and are following His invitation to serve Him in this new location. But, in responding to this opportunity, they take with them our hearts. We will miss a major part of their lives, and the lives of their two children who will grow up with us only visiting them from time to time. We grieve over this. It is a very difficult journey ahead for us and the question, “How can this be good?” could easily invade our joy if we allow it. Likewise, a few weeks ago, I was with a man who is grieving the loss of his family, as a divorce has broken them up. Then there is the family who is missing a wife and mother from their life, as she must now serve time in prison because she broke the law. These people are grieving, and I don't think they would say what they are going through is good. And again, in the same week, I spoke to a couple who is ministering to a mother and father whose son is in prison because of poor choices he made. The parents are grieving with and for their son, and I don't think they would say that it is a “good” grief. So, how can grief be turned into something good? I think the answer is not found with avoiding the circumstances that produce grief, for grief will eventually catch up to us all. When it does, we are humans and grief is a response that is part of our created nature. Even the perfect Christ grieved as an example of His humanity. He had feelings and was not ashamed to show them. God created grief to be a process we go through for adapting to a sad change that has come into our life, and if it is not embraced and allowed to work in us, we will have an open wound that will debilitate our future life. Grief might seem to be bad at the moment. But, it is necessary, and without going through it, the bad will remain in us and will cause us to lose a part of our life, which would be far worse than the grief itself. But good grief? Is there such a thing? Look what John Piper says, and maybe we can start to distinguish how good grief comes about:
"It takes moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice" John Piper
Grief will knock on all our doors sooner or later, and how we embrace it and respond to it produces the good grief we hope for. This is a path we follow that turns our tears into rejoicing and our rejoicing into joy. However, it starts with our perspective. Piper mentions the word “religious” courage. One could imagine what would be required to have this kind of courage. I believe religious courage begins with a step of faith, and this faith is founded on God's love for us, and His good plans for our life. For instance, do you believe what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 …..
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose?”
Doesn't it make sense in order to face a sad situation that causes us grief, we are comforted in believing God has a plan in place, and the situation we are in will eventually work for good in our life? To believe this when we are in the grief process requires a religious courage which is found only with our hope in God and His good plan. And, by believing in God's promises to us, we can also know that there will be a return of our laughter, a smile will return to our face, and there is hope behind the veil of darkness that presently overwhelms us. It is this hope that breaks through and creates a good grief in our life, and causes us to embrace it in a way that it becomes a blessing rather than a perceived curse. I understand firsthand how it can become a blessing, if we will allow God to walk us through the grief process.
I grew up with a Dad who I saw cry only once, and that is when his Dad died. After all, “Real men don't cry, right?”, or so we were told. Since I was only seven years old at the time, I had a free pass with my tears and didn't feel like a sissy. But, I had enough savvy to know that what I was seeing with my father was also permitted, for he was a man's man in every way. Watching him weep over his father's casket was the beginning for me in seeing the process of grief in action, as I saw my father embrace it and work through it. Twenty two years later, I was weeping over his casket as they laid his body beneath the ground in the same cemetery where my grandparents were buried. My grief process lasted almost two years, as the bitter sweet memories of my times with him and the hope of heaven for both of us, inspired the necessary religious courage to turn it to good grief. You see, it was also the time that God invited me to an intimacy with Him I had never experienced before. I will never forget that September night in Mississippi after I had raced to his home after my father's death in an industrial accident. All my family was inside the house comforting each other. I needed space and walked alone to the garden he had grown during the summer. Being alone, I could really belt out my agony. While doing so I asked God, “What will I do without my Daddy? I still need him in my life.” Not expecting an answer, I was surprised by the gentle comfort that fell over me. As I knelt in the grass that night and bowed my head, I heard words spoken to my heart as never before. I heard, “I will be your Daddy from now on.” When I left the field and went into the house, everyone sensed I had been given a new hope and comfort, and my grief had turned to a good grief. For the next two years, I grew in my fellowship and intimacy with Christ proportionately with the comfort I received from Him in the grief process I went through. Indeed, God gave me a good grief and I came to understand something I had never known before that time. I never knew that another name for God in the Bible is Abba, which means Daddy. From that night on, God became my Abba as He promised, and it is the relational foundation with Him I stand on 36 years later. Indeed, all things work for good, even grief, if we love God and we are His child.
Someone who is reading this devotional is likely going through some kind of grief process. Maybe this is why God inspired me to write this particular devotional on grief. It is meant for you. If this is true in your life, then accept a clear message God is sending to you. He is telling you that He loves you, and He will help you get through this time, if you will lean into Him. I'm praying for you, for you must be very special to Him, and you need to know it.
Also, as a final word of encouragement, embrace this grief you are facing, and allow God to embrace you. Before long you may be given another very special gift and start speaking Southern-eze when you cry out, “Guuuuud Grief! I can't believe how great my life has become!” Now wouldn't that be a good thing?
- This devotional is dedicated to our friends Larry and Cathy Pharo on the anniversary
of their son Eddie's death. May your joy continue, as you lean into your Savior Jesus.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
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Links & Resources
Influencers- Bakersfield, CA
Influencers-Bayside Church, Northern California
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"
Tulsa Men of Christ
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