It’s NOT the Wind and Waves that will Sink Me (and how NOT to sink)

We often think it’s the wind and waves that will sink us. Or the hurricanes or the floods. Or the disease and destruction.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Follow me here (Reader’s Digest version):

Matthew 14, Jesus walks up to the disciples on a boat. In the middle of the rough sea.
Disciples: “It’s a ghost! Run away run away run away! No, wait – we’re in a tiny boat! Nowhere to run!!”
Jesus: “Nope. It’s Me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter: “Let me walk on the water too!”
Jesus: “Come on.”

Peter does. Peter is EPIC– out of the boat going to Jesus walking on the water (obviously not as epic as Jesus…don’t have a cow).

Since Adam and Eve, nobody had ever walked on water, and nobody has done it since. ONLY Peter! And ONLY because he took a great step of faith. I want to be Peter!

 

But Peter, walking on water – begins to sink. One second he’s strolling across the water like it’s nothing, the next second he’s about to drown. Between those two events, only one thing happened: Peter saw the wind and the waves. He focused on the wind and the waves.

This is so significant! Consider: 

  • Jesus didn’t disappear. He’s still right there. In front of Peter.
  • Jesus didn’t lose His divine power to sustain Peter. He’s still God the Son.
  • The wind and waves didn’t, “just appear.” They were there all along.
  • The wind and waves didn’t, “all of a sudden obtain destructive powers.” The power was there all along.
  • The wind and waves didn’t even increase in intensity.

The only thing that changed? Peter’s focus.

Peter quit seeing Jesus, and he began seeing the wind and the waves.
He begins to fear the wind and waves more than he trusts Jesus.

And he sank.

Which leads to a powerful truth:

It’s not the wind and the waves that will sink me, it’s how I THINK about the wind and the waves.

In this life, it’s not the flood that will sink you, or the destruction, or the job loss, or the bad circumstance, it’s how you think about that thing.

“That’s not true David! There are things you can’t control – like storms and floods and hurricanes and disease! And they WILL sink you!”

Wrong. 

Even death can’t sink the person who has put their faith in Christ. Because they know that death is not the end.

That’s why Paul, when dragged out of town, beaten and left for dead, got back up the next morning and went right back into town. That’s why (according to tradition) Peter when faced with crucifixion, instead of losing all hope, or begging for mercy, or crying like a four-year-old, asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t consider himself worthy to die like Jesus.

At some point, both Peter and Paul realized that a beating or even death could not sink them – because they were consumed with Christ. They knew that Jesus would sustain them – even through death – and greet them on the other side.

So whether you are taking a giant leap of faith for Jesus, or encountering the wind and waves that we all face living in this world, the goal is to be so caught up in Christ, with eyes so fixed on Him, that…

We

don’t

sink.

We keep walking on the water…with Him.

So get out of the boat, walk on the water, and always always always – keep your eyes focused on Jesus. He will never let you let you down and never let you sink.

Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Amen amen.

 

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Focused

 

What I do When I’m Hammered

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GREAT hammer!

Oh wait – you didn’t think I meant “hammered” as in inebriated, intoxicated, wasted or drunk did you?

So sorry.

I meant, “hammered” as in, “emotionally hammered,” “hammered by life,” “down in the dumps,” “feeling really low.”

What do you do when you feel like giving up? When you can’t go on? I could tell you all the usual stuff:

1. Man up (I like that one! Seems so, “manly.”).
2. Your grandparents had it worse (true – many were risking lives in wars that covered the globe and faced a depression without “government help” (oxymoron anyone?), so quit whining.
3. The sun will come out tomorrow (what if it doesn’t?).

But none of those helpful comments get me through. Here’s what does:

Hammer it out with God’s Word.

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Example of, “stating the obvious.” But fabulous artwork!!

Why God’s Word? Let me first state the obvious. About God’s Word, you see, it’s umm, how do I put this? It’s hmmmmm….oh I know!

It’s God’s Word.

Don’t let your familiarity with the phrase, “God’s Word” undermine its power. When we say “God’s Word,” we’re saying a lot.

The Bible says it’s “God breathed.” It’s “powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.”

God spoke, and there was light.  God spoke, and the world came into existence.

So God’s Word is kind of a big deal. And it can change you, your insides, your outsides, all of you.

But let’s keep it simple:

You’re emotionally hammered.
Life has just dropped on you like a ton of bricks.
You’re not sure if you can get up tomorrow.
Or even keep going today.

Or maybe you’re not that low. But you are having a stressful day. This is still the best route. Trust me.

You can type this on your notepad, take a screenshot on your phone, and make it your wallpaper.

Find a verse that speaks to your situation (google, “Scriptures on God’s promises” or whatever). A great example is Jeremiah 29:11. Powerful verse about God’s plans for His kids. Write it on a card. Or make it your wallpaper on your phone.

During the day when:

tension rises,
anxiety increases,
worry creeps in,
or panic sets in…

…pull out the card or your phone, and displace those feelings with what God has said. Read it out loud or to yourself. Then say it as a prayer to the Lord. Say, “I believe.” Repeat it. And let it sink deep into your soul.

And as you do this, try to do it with the innocent trust of a child. With the trust you imagine a child feels when coming to a loving parent or to Jesus. 

I seem to remember as a child being told that the Bible was God’s Word. I was amazed – what an awesome book! I couldn’t set another book on top of it. I couldn’t let it get dirty. I treated it with serious and severe reverence.Who wouldn’t?!?!? It’s God’s Word for goodness sake!! What a precious and priceless and incredible gift!

Take that piece of paper or notation on your phone, and in the midst of anxiety or stress or worry, hang on to it. Grip it like grim death. Trust it like nobody’s business. Repeat as many times as necessary – all day long.

You do that, and  God will use it to change your thoughts, and renew your mind and hammer out anxiety and worry and panic.

Instead of getting emotionally and mentally hammered, hammer out the voice of the enemy, with the Voice of the Lord

Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 
Proverbs 30:5 

God Speed,

David

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You’ll Make It Home

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

 My first hunting outing with my dad, was dove hunting.


I was five. We lived in Waco, and drove to West (where the explosion was). My dad’s hometown was West. 

Amazing I hunt as much as I do today, because on this first trip, as

Print from my dad-reminded him of my brother, him and me.

we were walking through the high grass I got stung on my stomach (actually “tummy” – if you’re under six it’s a tummy) by a couple of hornets. 


I started crying, we went back to the car, and my dad pointed the a/c vent at my stomach to try to relieve the pain. We drove a bit, saw a tree in a pasture, and my dad “Why don’t we go sit under that tree? We might see some doves.” I agreed.

Dad’s Belgium made Browning 12 Citori…and hand biter.

We got out, and had to climb over a barb wire fence. He lifted me over first, then he began to climb over. He was holding his Browning 12. He had it open for safety. But as he climbed over, it got hung up, and closed on the skin between his thumb and hand.

 It cut through the skin, began bleeding quite a bit. He picked me back up, took me back to his mom’s house where he soaked his hand in kerosene (country antiseptic).

Here’s the point:
Stung multiple times.
Crying.
Upset. 
Dad’s hand hurt and bleeding.
Great day gone bad.

I never felt afraid.

I hurt. A lot! I was upset. A lot! I cried. A bit.

But was never concerned about my ultimate safety.
Never worried I’d survive.
I knew, that at the end of the day-I knew…everything would be OK. 

And! And! And!….get this: I was absolutely certain I would make it home.  Because my dad would carry me there. 

And in Christ, it is the same with you. 

God is sovereign.  
He’s in absolute control – and He will take care of you. You might hurt sometime. You might be upset. But just like me as a little kid:

 You will be safe in the arms of God. 
You will survive in the arms of God, 
You will be OK
 and at the end of the day
Everything will be OK
AND….you..will..make it…home. 
Because your heavenly Father will carry you there.



The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

God Speed,

Pastor David

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God’s Strength in the Dark of Night

Paul and Silas found themselves in a deep dark dungeon. The two had been beaten. So with bloodied backs, they were stuck in a tiny cell, not enough room to stretch out, feet in stocks so they couldn’t even try to find relief from the pain of the scourging.

It’s the the middle of the night, dark as pitch outside, even darker inside, and even darker down in a dungeon – the only sounds are rats or roaches scurrying and the occasional groan of a beaten prisoner.
 And the oddest thing happens. In the dark of the dungeon, the most hopeless of places, two voices ring out.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, 
and the prisoners were listening to them.  
Acts 16:25

This is a secret that will save your sanity my friend. Because you see, Eph. 6:12 We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  And one thing that drives Satan from our presence is the worship of Christ. The Bible says God inhabits the praises of His people.

Paul and Silas are in the worst of circumstances, and they praise God.
             
You want to see God’s power in your life when you’re under pressure? Call on the name of Christ, and worship God. 

Old saying: when God is small, problems are big. When God is big, problems are small. Paul and Silas are worshiping a big, big God – in the most desperate of situations they are worshiping God. Worship magnifies our image of God.

I love Joshua 6 – Jericho is surrounded by a wall and locked up tight. God says walk around the city 6 days and on the 7th shout a great shout and the walls will fall down flat. And so for 6 days they walked around the city, and on the 7th day – the people shouted,  and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout…
they shouted in victory 
they shouted in faith 
they shouted in power and might
they shouted because they believed that God’s Word was true,
and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Joshua 6:20

When you are faced with walls that won’t come down, when bound by shackles that won’t fall off, when in a prison of doubt and despair, when it’s midnight and sleep won’t come – praise the Lord in victory and praise the Lord in triumph cry out to Him declaring His greatness and power.

When you awake in the middle of the night with fear and worry, or are hit by anxiety in the middle of the day, call on Christ and worship Him.

God Speed.
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Why Church?

A New Year! As we begin, here’s something to think about. Why church? Church is so provincial…so old school(font change is intentional-it’s typewriter font-outdated… maybe how you think of church).

I can connect to God working in the yard or deer hunting. Personally I often connect to God while deer hunting. Some of my greatest praises of Him occur while deer hunting.

But here’s the truth. The local church is the most important thing going on planet earth today.

Really? You’re off your rocker David.

True, but let’s not get sidetracked. The local church really is the most important thing going on planet earth today.

Three (3) quick reasons why (and yes I know in the NT the word church is used to refer to the “universal church” meaning all Christians throughout time, but more often it refers to a local gathering of believers and that’s who I’m referring to specifically here, so don’t be a pointy headed academic-it’s annoying).

1. It’s the body of Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23.

Jesus Christ is #1 over all creation – He was here before a billion galaxies were created AND He created them all (John 1:3).

So if Jesus is #1 in the universe, anything Jesus is part of will by definition be more important than EVERYTHING else. 

When He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9), He left His body here. He is the head – He does the thinking, dreaming, determining, and willing. And He left ONE organization here to be His presence on earth: the church. The church is His body – His hands, feet-everything from the neck down.

So…since the church is the body of Christ, its a big, big deal.

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2. The church is what Jesus has been working on for 2000 years (wish it was, but this statement is not original with me).

 Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 I will build My church. He didn’t say I’ll build my country clubs, my malls, my para-church organization, or big cities or little towns or giant corporations or even I’ll build my homeless shelters.  He may be helping out with some of those things – but He only deliberately mentioned ONE thing. He said “I’ll build My church.” Oh oh oh! He didn’t say “I’m building my isolated, me centered Christians either!

For 2000 years, since Acts 2:47, Jesus has been adding people to the church. Saving them…one person at a time. And multiplying churches! Starting one after another, down through the ages.

Well how much does it cost? Through the ages, it’s been the practice of true blue Christians to tithe, give 10% of their income to the local church where they are fed.

But it cost much more than that – the real cost? It’s cost Christ His life on a cross. Then to get the word out – it cost each of the disciples their lives: crucified, beaten to death, beheaded. All b/c they believed to their death that adding people to Christ’s church was the most important thing and were committed to it. 

Everywhere they went, they’d start little churches by telling people about Jesus and His death on the cross to save them and His resurrection to give them eternal life.

And they paid for their work…with their lives. And since then, for 2000 years (two thousand years-do we really understand how long that is?!?) Jesus has been working with men and women to build His church, adding millions and millions of members.

#3. It’s God’s Plan A – the Hope of the World…there is no plan B.

This the BIG reason – the local church is God’s plan A, to connect us to Him. No plan B. The government cannot help you get a relationship with God (I could pound that nail for another 50,000 words). Home builders, retail stores, insurance companies, armies, police forces, fire departments, brokerage houses, even medical doctors and psychologists – none of those can change the human soul. They are completely impotent when it comes to the biggest question in life:

WHAT is your relationship to your Creator? 
WHAT is your eternity going to look like?
Only the church is equipped to answer that question. The church is the hope of the world b/c the church has the answer for every single human being.
Can we make this personal? See if I can with a story.
In 1972, a woman got out of bed and got dressed. She had a million things to do. Kids of her own to take care of. A husband to care for. Meals to cook, house to clean. But she had made a commitment…to her local church. She signed up to teach Vacation Bible School. She did weeks of preparation. She worked hard getting stuff together.
Her church in Austin, TX.
Then-Windsor Park Baptist Church,
now Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.
She fixed her kids’ breakfast, got them dressed, drove them to her local church. She got to her area and she was working with 10 year olds that day. She did her lesson, and on that day she told these little kids how to accept Jesus as their leader and forgiver. Because she knew that kids mattered to God.
And on that day, she had at least one little boy accept Christ as his Savior. No idea if she understood what a huge, momentous, earth and heaven shaking kind of moment it was. The Bible says in Luke 15:10 that there is joy in heaven when one person turns from sin and accepts Christ. I don’t know if she knew that.
But one day I will find out. Because I was the little boy that accepted Christ. I don’t remember her face, what she wore, or anything about her. But because she committed to God’s Plan A – the local church – I had THE most significant, decisive, earth shaking day of my entire life. There has never been another day like it, and there never will be. Because on that day I was born again…into God’s family as His child. 
Because of what she did – I will spend forever with God. She will be there too. And I will find her and tell her thank you. 
And because of what she did, through the local church I’ve been able to pass along that same gift that she gave me, to other boys and girls and men and women, over and over and over again. I cannot imagine anything greater in my life, than to model my life after the legacy that mom, wife and Christian gave me that day.
The local church is the hope of the world. What better place to invest your life in 2013?

First World Problems & Thanksgiving

What is God’s will for my life? Grey coat? Brown coat? This car? That car? What hair gel does He want me to wear? Or should it be a putty? Is it carbs, fiber or protein? What is His will? These are the questions that keep me up at night!!

I love this! So good. 
God’s will (or a major part of it) is pretty simple. You get this one thing and you are on your way. It’s gratitude.
Here it is spelled out for the doubters:  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thess 5.18
See that “will of God” part there? It’s like it came from an instruction manual or something. Crazy.
We suffer from a lot of ingratitude. Probably not you, but those lesser beings among us. Like me.
Came across this on Twitter. Actually my daughter’s twitter. Which I creep. People post (tweet…whatever) “first world problems,” demonstrating the silliness of our complaining in light of life around the world. Here a few of my favorites:
·         My refrigerator is too dark because there’s too much food in it blocking the light.  
·         I would Instagram my Starbucks holiday cup but they spelt my name wrong.
·         My mini-fridge is too cold.
·         I went to a buffet and got too full before I could eat all the different foods I wanted.
·         Everyone needs an iPhone. It’s so hard to express what I’m feeling without using emojis.
·         One of my peanut butter stuffed pretzels had no peanut butter…
·         And my all time favorite: “My metal belt buckle touched my tummy and it was chilly.”
Here was mine this morning – for real: I was trying to send a picture on my iPhone, and it wouldn’t send. It made me angry. Kind of embarrassingly really angry. Like I’m poking the touch screen furiously trying to make it go kind of angry (makes me laugh as I type it’s so ridiculous).

Now really…how dim is that? I have a phone that transmits messages…like magic…through the AIR!!!!No wires!! No carrier pigeons!! No note tied to a rock and thrown through a window like Ernest T. Bass! I just type words onto the magic glass and my words fly…they FLY through the air to another person who then reads my notes – sometimes half way around the world!!!  I’m like Aladdin and the magic lamp (only it’s a phone) and people that I personally know in the world are walking a mile 3 times a day for water, and I’m angry because I can’t send a picture right at the moment I want to. Silly.

And God offers a way out of this foolishness. It’s called gratitude.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of Godin Christ Jesus for you. I Thess 5.18
So I copied something last year and I’m doing it again this year. As Thanksgiving approaches, each day I’m writing something I’m thankful to God for on Facebook to practice the discipline of gratitude and to remind myself that what I have to be thankful for, is exceedingly and abundantly more than what I am lacking. And to be a witness to others of the greatness and goodness of God.
Here are my first four posts – just as an example – you can see the rest on my Facebook page. But here’s the bottom line – are you thankful to God? How about starting now? Whether you post it somewhere as a witness to others that you are thankful or take a few moments each day to look to the heavens and thank God, you will be blessed when you do.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
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OK behind as usual -Thanksgiving Day 1 – I’m thankful to God for Jessica Bohanon Dyson giving me the idea again this year to countdown to Thanksgiving by posting what I’m thankful for (I’ll be playing catch up today and tomorrow).
Day 2 – I am SOOO thankful to God for blinding Cindy Ruzicka so that she would fall in love with me and say “yes” when I knelt on the beach at Galveston (across from Gaido’s) 25 years ago to propose. 2nd best decision I ever made (Christ was first). I married UP big time. She’s beautiful, Godly, kind hearted, and loves me in spite of myself. And she’s the greatest mom to my girls I would ever wish for. I could go on and on for days and my admiration for Cindy would still be vastly understated. God is good and God is great and I give thanks to Him for Cindy – who I love greatly.
Day 3 – Let me be clear…today is a toss-up. One of the two has to go first so I tossed a coin. It’s Summer this morning. I’m so thankful to God for my 12 year old Summer. I LOVE being with her. Going to the country, going hunting (she doesn’t hunt-just goes with me). When I’m with her, there is nowhere on earth I’d rather be. Nowhere. I am absolutely that fond of her. She’s a gorgeous knockout, has had me laughing since she was born, is incredibly disciplined and loves Jesus. It is hard to communicate how much the depths of my soul fills with gratitude as I consider the idea that God blessed me with her. God is so good and God is so great and I give thanks to Him for Summer – who I love greatly.

Thanksgiving Day 4 – I’m thankful to God that in 1995 He chose to bless me with a huge surprise – a little girl! I was expecting a boy. What an over-the-top blessing to be a daddy to a girl! Better than I could ever imagine. A gorgeous knockout, disciplined beyond anything she received from me, hilarious, and a deer hunter who wears pearls while hunting! Plus – this is the best part, she is faithful to the Lord, teaching junior high girls at church every Sunday for three years now. I know I’ve said it before, but when I’m with her…there is nowhere on this earth I’d rather be. As Peppermint Patty quotes her father in Charlie Brown, Taylor Ruzicka is my “rare gem”. And since that day God blessed me in 1995, I have been her biggest fan. God is so good and God is so great and I my heart is overwhelmed today with thanks to Him for Taylor – who I love greatly.