Stewards4Christ

May 31, 2008

Going Through Spiritual Caves

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 8:43 pm

The comments below are from a newsletter I received this week from Kim Collingsworth (www.thecollingsworthfamily.com). These thoughts that Kim shared really encouraged me this week as I realized that I’ve been in a cave recently. I trust these words encourage you, the reader as much as they did me.

Many years ago, I recall taking a trip with my family to the state of Kentucky to a place called Mammoth Cave. As a child I hated caves! I remember the feeling of fear that I had as we begin to enter this big, dark, intimidating place. I was so scared. I remember as the tour guide led us deep into the cave, he did something very interesting! He turned the lights out completely to show us just how dark it could be in a cave. I remember holding my hand up and becoming petrified when I realized that I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. I vaguely remember wanting to hold onto my mother and daddy’s hands because I was terrified that I would get lost and not find my way out. It seemed like an eternity before the guide turned the lights back on. I will never forget it. It has now been thirty plus years since that seemingly insignificant event and I still hate caves! Oh, I’m sure if I went back to Mammoth Cave today the fear would probably not be near as strong and I could most likely handle it.

By now you’re probably wondering why in the world I’m even telling you this. Well, lately I have become aware once again that there are caves that we all visit from time to time in our spiritual walk. Caves sometimes of our own choosing, and then sometimes caves where we have absolutely no control over being there. None of us like spending time in the cave. It can be so dark. Maybe you’re in a cave because you’ve lost your health, your job, your finances are messed up, your children are breaking your heart, you’ve lost a good friend or family member to death, someone you love has disappointed you, your marriage is in trouble… and the list could go on. It’s when we’re in the cave that it becomes easy to question God and wonder if he has forgotten about us. It’s easy to quickly lose focus and start thinking thoughts that aren’t even reality.. “God where are you? Do you even know or care that I’m here?” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hang on because you’ll find out sooner or later on this journey we call ‘life’. If you get a chance, read the story about David in the Bible. He was well on his way to success. Things looked really good for him.. He had killed a lion, a bear and even a GIANT! He was promoted from a little shepherd boy to one of the highest ranks in the land, and then it all came crashing down around him. King Saul got jealous and David had to run for his life. He ended up in a cave crying out to God for help! If you read the Psalms very often, you’ll notice that many times David was crying out, “Oh God, deliver me…” Interestingly enough, it’s these cave experiences that strip away our self-sufficiency and help us to see clearly that we don’t have what it takes to make it out there on our own! When we have nothing else to rely on except God, it’s then that we realize He’s the only one we can rely on!

Why is it that we run from these cave experiences? I guess it’s our humanness trying to avoid pain, but looking back in retrospect, usually good things happen while we’re in the cave. It’s there that we learn total dependence on our Father. No crutches or props to lean on, and all of the sudden we find ourselves zeroing in on the things that really matter. If we lived forever on the mountain top we would become spiritually spoiled rotten and an ungrateful lot. It reminds me of a song that the late Dottie Rambo wrote many years ago.. As a kid, I used to wonder why she would write a song that says, “Don’t take my burden or my cross away.” Now when I listen to this song, I think I understand just a bit of what she was saying… Listen to the chorus…

For I would grow careless and idle I fear

My eyes would be dry and I would never shed a tear

Lest I forget that I need you each day

Don’t take my burden or my cross away.

I love the mountain top, but I know we don’t always live there. May God grant us the grace and graciousness to appreciate the cave experiences knowing that they truly do help to make us into the people we need to be.

I love you all!

Kim

May 16, 2008

The sheepfold or the thicket?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 4:57 pm

“What man among you…does not leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NASB)

This week the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 has captivated my attention. I’m asking myself this question, “Do I spend too much time in the sheepfold?” Is this possible? Is it possible for a Christian to spend too much time in the sheepfold rather than going out to look for the lost sheep? I think this is a possibility, and one I don’t want to fall prey to in my Christian walk.

What is the “sheepfold?” I don’t know for sure, but I suggest it could be equivalent to our churches and other places where we as Christians feel safe and comfortable…and the place where for many of us the world is nowhere to be seen. It is so easy for us to “hold on” and huddle together with those of like faith…this sounds like the sheepfold…the place where the ninety-nine sheep were in this parable. If the sheepfold does represent churches, think about how much time, money, and energy is invested in maintaining the sheepfold. How much do we invest in the lost? Is seeking the lost left only to the missionaries in our world? I don’t think so!

I looked at this parable in my Life Application Study Bible and found these comments:

“Jesus came to show sinners that God loves them. Jesus didn’t worry about the accusations. Instead he continued going to those who needed Him, regardless of the effect these rejected people might have on his reputation. What keeps you away from people who need Christ?”

“Jesus took the concept of the Pharisees’ cleanness lightly. He risked defilement by touching those who had leprosy and neglecting to wash in the Pharisees’ prescribed manner, and he showed complete disregard for their sanctions against associating with certain classes of people.”

“Jesus associated with sinners because he wanted to bring the lost sheep – people considered beyond hope – the gospel of God’s Kingdom.”

We live in a world where many hurting people need someone to come into their lives and love them with love as Christ loved the sinners He associated with. Are you willing to risk criticism to associate with those in your world who truly need the gospel of Jesus Christ? Maybe there are Christians who need to grow in their relationship with Christ, maybe those who God wants you to show His love to. Are you willing to “leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one which is lost?” Ask God to lead you to where the one lost sheep is caught and needing to be rescued.

Jesus tells us in Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (NASB). I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of the “more joy” that Jesus talked about in this verse. I want to be willing to get out of the sheepfold and reach out to others.

May 10, 2008

And God saw that it was good

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 11:58 am

“And the earth brought forth grass…and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:12)

One of my hobbies is taking care of my grass! Being a computer Geek, I spend a lot of my time at a desk and working on a computer. While I really enjoy this sort of work, it is very nice to get outside and do something that involves exercise and breathe in fresh air. One of the benefits of yard work is the immediate results that you can see!

This morning I started mowing early because of a weather forecast that calls for rain later today! I’ve worked  hard on this yard for four years, and I’m rather proud of how it looks this spring! I was reminded of this verse in Genesis when God looked at what He had created and thought that it was good! While I didn’t create the grass, trees, or flowers in my yard, I have worked hard to fertilize, spray for weeds, re-seed, and water! I looked at my yard this morning when I had finished and thought this is good!

Here some pictures for you to see how good it looks!

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