Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thinking of Me

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  Psalm 139:17-18

Let’s do the math here . . . millions of people, plus how many grains of sand?  Yep, that would be all of them . . . quadrillions (that’s not even enough to number them).  Goodness!  Ok, and that would equal the number of thoughts . . . precious thoughts, about ME!  But there’s so many others out there to think about!  Why toward me?  My head hurts trying to comprehend the immensity of this.

There’s good reason my head hurts.  My comprehension of the fullness of God and His ways is beyond the limited understanding my “earth suit” is capable of grasping.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”  Isaiah 55:8

While I know I am made in His image, I also know that I am not God — He is so much more!  I’m reminded of an old song I used to sing in my childhood that said, “My God is so BIG, so STRONG and so MIGHTY, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”  Even now, as an adult, this song speaks unbelievable Truth in the nature of who God is!

But being big, or strong and mighty, while true and awesome, does not address the reality that God thinks about me!  His thoughts about me are innumerable.  I am awestruck at the magnitude of precious thought He spends on me.  This is an expression of love, care and value that reaches beyond human reason and steps into a, perhaps the, realm of “lack of understanding.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding . . . ”  Proverbs 3:5

Amazing . . . simply amazing!  Despite my circumstances, despite my past, despite my ill-doings and doubt, despite my lack of hope or faith, despite my disobedience and rebellion, despite my worry — He thinks precious thoughts of me by an infinite number.  It’s a measure of unconditional love that crosses over the boundaries of our minds and sometimes our hearts.

“Jesus loves me, this I know . . . for the Bible tells me so!”

Thank you Lord Jesus for thinking precious thoughts of me today!

“How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts!”    Psalm 92:5

by:  Mark Cruver

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Unfavorable Frustration

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive  mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

I just hung up the phone — uggh!  I’m so frustrated!  My heart pounds hard.

My mornings are filled with burnt toast and tired children — uggh!  I’m so frustrated!  I’m snappy.

I’m going to be late — uggh!  I’m so frustrated!  I drive crazy.

My circumstances suck — uggh!  I’m so frustrated!  I give up.

Any of these sound familiar?  I wish I could say I’ve made them up, but I can actually remember these happening to me.  What would your list look like?

God doesn’t call me to be frustrated, but I have wrestled with understanding what I should look like, how I should behave and what even I should think when I’m frustrated.  You see, frustration is in itself no sin, but is a conduit to sin.

Frustration is defined as a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

This means, in practical terms, it’s what happens when I don’t get my way or I’m not satisfied with the results.  Paul tells us that circumstances in life will stink (my paraphrase), but how we respond to those frustrating moments is really what matters!  The feelings are real, they will present themselves and well up within, but Paul further explains in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  It’s clearly a choice!  How I respond is a choice!

The good news is that God has given instruction on how NOT to handle it on my own.  I can’t speak for you, but I tend to screw things up when I try to handle them on my own.  So, when the moments arrive, and they will, when my needs are not met and I’m struggling in the lack of satisfaction, what do I do?  How do I respond?  My body clenches, my teeth clamp, my heart races and I tend to huff!  But God gives me an outline of what I SHOULD do in these moments instead.

God wants my every thought to fall in obedience to Him.  He desires for me to fly the white flag in life indicating a full surrender of everything in my life.  He expects and desires me to surrender my satisfaction, my unmet needs and my unresolved problems.  He knows all about them anyhow, He just waits for me to hand Him the reins.

Oh, so yes, that outline!  I mentioned, God gives me the ultimate outline for response.  From within my frustrations we are called to approach the throne with full confidence!  Pray with confidence when I’m frustrated?  Pray or huff?  I really want to huff . . . but taking that thought captive in obedience means to snuff the huff and practice my prayer.  And then comes the why!  Why pray?  Because in doing so, the floodgate of our hearts open to receive from the Father His mercy!  It also unlocks the code required to see the grace only He can serve that WILL help us in our unfavorable frustrations!

by:  Mark Cruver

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A Day of Atonement

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Today is Yom Kippur! For the average person in America, this day all but goes unnoticed. In fact, if it were not for the mention of Israel by our President at the U.N. yesterday and a brief conversation with my sister-in-law of those events, I would never had realized the significance of today.

You see, today is Yom Kippur . . . the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, also known as Day of Atonement. It is a day set aside by thousands to worship and seek God.

In addition, this day has been set aside for another purpose. Set aside not for religious purpose or personal notoriety. Instead, this day was set aside for prayer. Thousands, if not millions, around our country and worldwide met this morning at their schools flagpole to pray for their nation, their schools, their families and each other! A holy day indeed!

God’s people rose to meet with Him! They met the eastern sky with arms raised in worship and praises given to the most High, to God Eternal, Immortal . . . to the One who loves us and yearns for His children to “come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, (to) give them rest.”

When the righteous cry out, lift their voices high to God Eternal, He listens!! It’s a story, a Truth through the ages, a Truth that never fails! He hears – He listens – He answers!

Today can be a day of atonement for you – speak to the One who knows you better than you know yourself! And in your righteousness through Him, your prayers are filled with power! And through His power, they are guaranteed effective!

by:  Mark Cruver

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No Darkness at Dawn

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”  Proverbs 4:18-19

There is nothing more beautiful on a crisp pre-fall morning when the temperatures are just right, the skies are clear and nature is at peace, than the slow rise of the sun as it warms the surface of the ponds, reflects itself in the dew on the meadow and blinds me on that back country road.  There’s something special and warm about those mornings.  Agree?

Solomon knew something of what this was like apparently — through experiencing the same sun rise from the same eastern sky as I do each day, he related the growing ambiance of each day to the life of the righteous.  That is incredible imagery to know that my path, (I’m righteous because Christ said so in Romans 5:19) will be illuminated by His light evermore increasingly.

Regardless, however, of my circumstances, it doesn’t feel like the sun comes up so spectacularly every day when I’m on that path.  In fact, there are days when it feels like the sun doesn’t come up at all.

Some of the most spooky times in my life (growing up in Florida) were the days when we had what we called noon-day thunderstorms.  I’m not talking about rain showers — I’m talking about the thick, black and rolling clouds that forces you to turn on the lights because it looks like 8 p.m. outside when it’s actually time for lunch!  Weird!

Life on the path can encounter some of those “weird” moments as well.  Like the noon-day sun which never stops shining — regardless of the circumstances — God shines His light upon us, even in the midst of dark moments as the storms roll in.

So what do I do when it feels like the light of the Son has stopped shining on my path?  What do I do when my dawn casts no shadows?  What do I do when I reach for a lamp or wish for a flashlight — something to replace the noon-day Son?

Christ reminded the people in the midst of their own doubts that the Son shines so they will never walk in darkness — even when they see no light.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Though clouds and storms may squelch the light my eyes can see, may the darkness that surrounds me be split by the light of the Son that shines forever in my heart.  May I never be fooled into thinking the darkness is absent the Son.  May I forever be confident of the steps I take with my eyes closed and my heart wide open, knowing — trusting — believing that His light is Truth and I will never then walk in darkness because I have the light of life!

Amen!

by:  Mark Cruver

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Shaken or Steadfastly Stirred?

“Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.  He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”  Psalm 112:6-7

A number of years ago, I was shaken by the news of my mom having cancer.  The first in our family, the aggressive nature of this strain made for moving quickly.  The thought of losing a dear loved one to something so out of my control for me was a lesson in trust and prayer.  My initial response was asking, sometimes even yelling at God to get answers to the growing question of “why?”  My fist was spiritually drawn and raised a number of times in the deepness and darkness this horrible incident brought upon my mom.

And now, years later — and mom cancer-free — I find myself once again facing a more personal crisis.  The cover looks the same, the story is just a bit different.  Every word is written on the pages of grace and forgiveness, penned by the Author.  And while I don’t really know the ending to this one exactly, I am confident in knowing it will be very similar.  How do I know?  Well, here is what He said about that . . .

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

It’s great knowing the ending, it helps in living through the pages of life.  But, how do I live off those pages when I come to a chapter that “rattles my cage?”  How do I keep reading?  How do I keep the book open and read on?

It’s easier said than done, but the Truth is that the words I read off my pages of life are more than just words.  What it is my eyes see cannot be trusted — but knowing who authored my story from the beginning, from cover to cover is imperative.  In whom do I trust?

David reminds us that a righteous man will never be shaken and will not fear bad news.  It’s all in how I live — where is my faith, do I believe in the Author and Finisher of my life?  Or am I trying to write each page?

This means that my life is not in my hands, but rather, in the hands of my God!  The pages are being written by Him.  Getting shaken is placing trust in myself to get through the bad news, to figure out my own way to process and “deliver” myself from the worry and fear.  But that’s not trusting — that’s acting like Adam!

So, God — when I face the pages in my life that reflect strife, present crisis, face rejection, bear fear, instead of being shaken, help me . . .  HELP me be steadfastly stirred by those moments but not shaken.  Remind me of who I am IN YOU and THROUGH YOU, and that my heart be, as it is, steadfast to withstand the storms I face each and every day!

Amen!

by:  Mark Cruver

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Renewing Your Mind Isn’t All In Your Head

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

With a few trips and countless miles behind me, I have had quite a bit of time to think and ponder the image of transformation, the practicality of a mindful change and how this actually translates into daily living.  It has been a very interesting and revealing quest in seeking understanding of God’s Word for me.  All-be-it, very humbling!

When transformation takes place it is understood that something (whatever that is) becomes something else.  Applying Romans 12 then, this would suggest that I, me, this person, would become something completely different at the renewing of my mind . . . I, me, this new person.  This is good of course, I long to be the man God wants me to be and to live according to His purposes.  But it seems, however, that in order for that to truly occur, my mind must think differently — my mind must think like Christ — my mind must have the mind of Christ’s.  After all, that is what having Christ live through me looks like. Right?

But how do I do it?  How do I make this transformation occur?  I know!  Read, Read and Read some more!  That will certainly transform my thinking.  Well, while reading is certainly good and especially if it’s in God’s Word, it alone is not going to transform me into something else.  There has to be more to it than that!  Oh, I know — I must do something different!  Talk different, drink different, eat different, walk different, dress different — by doing these things I will certainly change into something different.  Again, when I simply rely upon myself for transformation I will always fall short of what God is trying to do in and through me to bring me further in fellowship with Him.  Plus, reading and doing are both built around me trying to change me!  Until I understand the Truth that sets me free (John 8:32), I will always be the one in control and He wants us to fully surrender everything to Him!  Remember what Paul said about this process?  “. . . that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.  So we need to get out of His way and freely allow Him to do His good work!

Over the last several months I’ve been wrestling with understanding what and how to fully trust, completely depend upon, surrender, have faith and walk in peace.  I’ve asked over and over, “What does this look like?”  and “How does this feel?”  I understood the meaning of trust, surrender and faith — I even got the word peace — but why in the world was I not feeling it?  I just had to understand these concepts in order to flush them out in my life, but somewhere in my head I reached a block wall and it no longer translated clearly.

I found myself, once again at a loss for clarity.  That’s when God reached, when the time was right and perfect and cleared my fog.  All these miles in deep ponder began to uncover a Truth that only in Him, made sense.  God began to reveal His Truth in that the “renewing of my mind” was not going to take place in my head!  I know, that’s the first place I looked too!  And, not only did I look there, I camped there.  I wrestled with understanding what it meant to transform, to trust, to have faith.  I needed evidence and instructions, descriptions and expectations — I needed answers before I was going to fold my hands across my chest and fall backwards into the arms of a Stranger.

My being transformed by the renewing of my mind was not going to come from me thinking differently, understanding more clearly or walking in the paths of “righteousness.”  The renewing of my mind was going to have to start in my heart, not my head!  The most logical place to start appears to be in my head so I have spent countless hours attempting to clear and refill my mind.  While good, it too will lead to death — it must start in my heart!

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Proverbs 14:12

by:  Mark Cruver

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Pardon Me

Before The Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Watch and listen (computer only) here:  http://youtu.be/yoPyLcY6Zv4

thank you JD!

posted by:  Mark Cruver

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