Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trust God: the Waves and Winds Don’t Lie

(About Jesus) The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
— Matthew 8:27 (NLT)
Matters of inner conflict polarise,
Indecision leaves us with a sigh,
Something we must know is this truth:
God’s waves and winds don’t lie.
The wind blows from only one direction, so there cannot be two ‘truths’ on the same matter, although there can be a collective or complementary truth.
The waves are tumultuous, yet they obey the one and only living God. Where the waves toss, there, in the midst of those waves, is the truth of life – the truth – God, no less.
Endure the winds. Ride the waves.
Anyone who has done such a thing – even once – knows just how hard it is to endure the winds and to ride the waves. Let us not be flippant in urging anyone to do something so seemingly impossible.
Let us, instead, go on in the matters of losing the old life in order that we might embrace those waves and winds until Jesus calms them. Let us not blackmail God by insisting the waves and winds be stilled by our voice; are we God?
God gives us a purpose in meeting the oncoming waves and in rallying with the wind.
It’s time to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) and apply our faith. When all seems lost and forlorn, then watch for the hand of God. The longer God seems to take, the better the growth and the fuller the solution.
Whatever we do, the waves and winds don’t lie. Where the seas are rough, ride them, for God will calm them at the right time. Where the winds must be endured, do just that; for, a still and small breeze is coming.
Whether we live,
Whether we die,
Those waves and winds,
They don’t lie.
As gentle as a breeze,
Rustling through the leaves,
God’s nature can be trusted,
Don’t trust what deceives.
Go with eternity,
On God alone rely,
His waves and winds will grow us,
Trust them till you die.
Adversity is no better teacher if we will trust her. Her agents are the winds of hardship as they blow truly and the waves of tumult as they toss violently, yet obedient to the Lord.
Trusting the Lord is never more appropriate than when we are blown by the winds and tossed by the waves. Indeed, this is the very appointed time to trust.
Trust God: the winds and waves don’t lie. God honours everyone who withstands the winds and waves. God never leaves the courageous, and the courageous are the fearful who venture by faith.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rising to the Humble Love of Kindness

If you could argue a case for love – the type of love – that makes the biggest difference, what would it be? Without a second’s thought I’d say kindness:
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
— Sam Levenson (1911–1980)
What strikes me as weird in the above quote is kindness is something we give away, yet it’s something we receive in that very act. When we are kind, God is kind to us. When we go out of our way to help someone, there is something really sweet that takes place deep in our soul.
Kindness is a gift we give to others which gives back every time if our hearts are right. What is meant by that is this: real intended kindness is done for purely altruistic purposes. Real kindness is done without thought for a reward in return. In fact, real kindness will resist the reward if it won’t undignify anyone. In other words, some people will resist a reward in return no matter the cost, even if it means offending the person who wants to return a reward. But the person being authentically kind is genuinely seeking to bless other people indiscriminately. The less they receive in return, the more joy is elicited from within them to their outer being.
When it comes to our own satisfaction in life, can there be any better action than to help ourselves by helping others. A service mindset could be the secret to a life of purpose and meaning.
The kinder we can function in our external life, the more joy we will experience in our internal life.
Kindness is the type of love that rises above the vagaries of human emotion, whilst, simultaneously, being humble enough to be genuinely interested in serving in the simplest of ways.
If we will be kind, God will show us blessings beyond what’s reasonable. The Lord will use our kindness by transferring our desire to connect with people in menial ways to elevate us above the petty worldly concerns we often complain about (i.e. first world problems).
Through kindness we may rise out of a preoccupation for small-minded complaint long enough to see the broader expanse of life. Kindness, therefore, is a great blessing that helps us to see life through the lens of truth-filled perspective.
Being kind is the gift that gives back in the very act of giving.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How God Restored the Train Wreck of Our Lives

Sometimes the curveballs life throws at us are almost completely our own doing. Sure, there might be some bad circumstances or nuances of injustice in our stories that predisposes us to a cursed life. But there is no reason why we should accept the hand dealt us and, hence, make excuses why our lives are ruined.
If our lives have turned out as a train wreck it is not life’s fault (or God’s). We can still get in there with a recovery team and salvage it. We can transform the wreck into something new; something different; something genuinely purposeful.
So there are no excuses. Many of us have had rock bottoms, which a friend described to me recently as being as close to death as you can be without actually dying.
I’ve been guilty of enabling bad behaviour by rescuing people from situations of their own making. The father of the Prodigal Son did no such thing, but was ready to receive him in unconditional love when the Prodigal Son was ready (desperate enough to come back in humility). The father did not run after his son. He allowed his son the dignity to undignify himself – something many of us have needed no help with.
The troubled person needs to be allowed the indignity of the fullness of their God-appointed and God-anointed rock bottom. It sounds too tough but it’s the only way many of us were able to be helped. But what must underpin it is love. We never give up on them, but we must wait patiently for the miracle of the receipt of God’s grace in their lives.
From relinquishing our weakness to resolving afresh in strength, in that gap, is God Himself. From one point of dire hopelessness to that very God-defining victory, against the odds, there is Jesus.
We need to take personal responsibility for the circumstances we find ourselves in; the majority of the reason we are where we are is our decision-making. Only when we take responsibility for where we are at can we resolve the right motive and action to make something of ourselves. Excuses only hold us back, no matter how true they are.
God restored the train wreck we made of our lives when we decided to own up to our responsibilities, day after day, month after month.
Excuses take us far from God, but when we acknowledge the truth God feels very near.
God has a massively purposeful present and future for everyone who grasps full responsibility for their own life.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blessed Freedom of Grace In Salvation

Salvation is more than repentance. That was the premise of the recent theological discussion I was involved in. Whilst repentance is a key component in the Holy Spirit’s working of the miracle within a soul by convicting that soul of his or her sin, just as much, if not more, a role grace plays in that soul; a person, like each one of us, who needs God’s unconditional acceptance.
We all need God’s love of unconditional acceptance – and we have it through Jesus Christ.
That’s what grace is: God’s love of unconditional acceptance, with one saving caveat – to believe upon Christ. Nobody truly needing God, and admitting that same need, would foreseeably have a problem in committing to trust God.
Repentance is one half of the story – to know the need of God – and grace is the other half. One we bring to the table in simply turning toward God. The other only God can do. Even if we are poor at repenting, we are not beyond God’s unconditional acceptance. And nobody who is ‘poor’ at repentance is any worse in God’s saving estimation than someone who repents as a mature Christian does. Repentance is just one half of the story. Grace is the too untold other half – welling up to interminable love. We really cannot know the end of it!
Trusting God is our opportunity. When we understand grace – that we are authorised to fellowship directly with God – because of Jesus’ obedience on the cross and his resurrection – we are no longer hamstrung by our sinful nature. We wish to be further sanctified, but we are no less purified by the blood of Jesus shed for us. We were purified, once-for-all-time, when we chose to follow Jesus.
As we trust God, in the full measure of courage, by the fortitude of faithfulness, we experience the blessed freedom of grace. This is the experience of salvation; of knowing we are saved once-and-for-all-eternity.
This grace that we have full assurance of is unfathomable. It is more incredible the more we experience it. We cannot hope to know the height, or the breadth, or the width, or the depth of such a thing. Grace is amazing and what one human being can experience is closer to nothing than the fullness of grace. Yet it means everything to us; our guilt and shame has been taken away. It clings to us no longer. Indeed, we glory in the fact of our sordid pasts, because God has made no eternal consequence of them.
We, who are saved, are greatly enjoyed by God, though we may not enjoy ourselves. God loves every one of us, even if we struggle to love ourselves. Grace makes it possible that we might know that unconditional acceptance of God’s and, so, actually experience it through peace, joy, love...
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.