Tramp For The Lord

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By , April 22, 2013 1:44 pm
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Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:6 MSG

 

Something stirs inside me when I hear the sound of trains passing early in the morning and late at night. It brings to mind images of migrant workers in the Great Depression. I imagine them, having exhausted the resources of a place—day jobs and handouts—hopping on board, this their act of faith. They move out, believing there is something more waiting for them at the next stop.

 

Our lives as believers are not so different. We hear the call of Jesus, “Follow Me,” and onward we go. Jesus, who had no place to lay His head, certainly modeled this lifestyle for us. Early in the morning, He got His marching orders for the day and then set out to follow His instructions. Abraham, who we might say is faith personified, followed God to a place he didn’t know.

 

Do you ever feel like the life you live is little, that it can’t amount to much? How can it with so much earthly baggage to tote? It often seems that I am more like a drifter than a soldier of God. When I am in that place, I find solace in the journey of Paul. I think of him as a bit of a tramp, his tent-making supplies gathered into a knapsack and the Gospel burning in his heart. He meandered, it would seem, across Asia into Europe sewing and preaching and sowing. But he went as the Spirit bid him (see Acts 16) even when led into trouble and prison.

 

It’s not that surprising that a tramp would have a firsthand acquaintance with a jail cell. One of my spiritual role models is Corrie Ten Boom, and she did time in Auschwitz. In her story of enduring faith, she testifies, “no pit is so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.”  And, though her account about living victoriously in a prison camp is miraculous, it is her later writings that mean the most to me.  In “Tramp for the Lord,” she chronicles her life after prison, in the daily trenches of decision-making and doubt and relationships.  Corrie demonstrates, as did Paul, the powerful lifestyle of getting on board with the Lord, pressing on to know Him and His upward call.

 

Citing Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love,” my friend and teacher John Riddle explains how we can live this way. We follow Jesus on the parallel tracks of faith and love. I can have faith that wherever God leads me holds the best of all possibilities because His love for me is perfect.

 

Join me in asking God to help you live like this: Lord, I covet the joy of watching You move and the faith to simply follow. Transform my thoughts and conform my will so that I can more readily get on track with You. Wherever You lead me, God, that is where I want to be. Make me into a Tramp for You, Lord!

tramp

Ruth: A Study of Redemption, Week 8 – 04/16/13

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By , April 17, 2013 8:06 pm
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We wrapped up our study of Ruth this week as we examined chapter 4.

Ruth: A Study of Redemption, Week 7 – 04/09/13

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By , April 9, 2013 10:23 pm
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We continued our look at the third chapter of Ruth, using her encounter with Boaz as a model for prayer.

Identity Theft

By , April 9, 2013 9:44 pm
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How terrible it will be for anyone who argues with his Maker! He is like a broken piece of pottery lying on the ground. Does clay say to a potter, “What are you making?” Does a pot say, “You don’t have any skill”?

Isaiah 45:9 NIRV

 

I met Phyllis Hamm in the ‘80s. We were both newlyweds living in starter homes in Homewood. We shopped at the same grocery store and attended the same church. She is one of the most universally liked individuals I have ever met. I think of her as someone who is comfortable in her own skin. So it came as a surprise to learn that she struggles with her identity.

 

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. The truth is that most of us have a hard time accepting deeply that God has crafted us with a one-of-a-kind design and purpose. At some level, we all question and criticize how we’re made and, in the process, lose sight of our unique identity. These thought patterns invite all kinds of trouble.

 

Phyllis recognized this tendency in herself and expressed it well when she shared how it affected her: “I’ve been going from place to place and person for my worth and value.” Can you relate? I know I can!  When we don’t let God define our significance, we allow our identities to be shaped by sources much less reliable or loving than God.

 

Satan, who is an expert at identity theft, stands at the ready to rob us. Phyllis began to examine some of the things she believed about herself and her life. In scrutinizing her thinking, she spotted some of Satan’s lies that had slipped in because she doubted her God-given identity. Does her list sound familiar to you?

  • Left out
  • Not acceptable
  • Not important
  • Inferior, second best
  • Alone, abandoned, disconnected
  • Unwanted, not chosen, rejected
  • Judged by others
  • Not in the inner circle
  • Guilt, shame
  • Don’t belong
  • Not in the right position
  • Hurt, self pity
  • Unfair
  • Not worthy

 

Even though these thoughts and feelings were very real to Phyllis at the time, she also knew the truth: “God is my source of worth and value!” As she began to pray about her identity issues, the Lord led her to meditate on the words “positive” and “position.” As she opened her heart and mind in prayer to God and to a trusted prayer partner, here’s what God revealed to her:

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I am not thankful or happy about my position. I want to be in the inner circle position.  During my prayer time with Martha, she asked me if there was ever a time in my life where I did not get the position I wanted.  I was reminded (had not thought about for 45 years) about the time in 6th grade I wanted to be a patrol girl. I got placed as a supply girl.

 

All the popular people were patrol girls. Not me. I got the lesser position. As I looked out the supply store window, I saw the patrol girls opening and closing the car doors. Everybody loved them–they were cool and popular.

 

Where was Jesus? As I remembered back to this time, I realized He was right there with me in the supply room. He gave me this position.   Jesus and I were serving others. We were ministering to others one-on-one through the supply window!

 

In the supply room you have to be organized, have administrative skills, and be math-minded! God chose me for that position because of my strengths: I am relational, warm, open, organized. My strength is one-on-one relationships!  Anyone can open and close a car door.

 

As we were praying He showed me the meaning of “positive”—it is to have assurance, stand firm, and be sure, sure that my identity is unshakeable.  I am positive He chooses me for any position I am in. I am selected to God’s inner circle!

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Our Maker doesn’t waste a single thing in molding us. Every day was written in His book and is part of His shaping process. Often He uses seasons of seclusion to transform us into useful vessels. This was true for Joseph, Moses, Esther, and Paul. It is also true for my friend Phyllis. The time she spent in the school supply room (and more recently in the prayer closet) equipped her for her current role as Missions Coordinator at a church with a very large contingent of missionaries.

 

Now Phyllis can see that her administrative and relational gifts make her well suited for her job. She also has joy in knowing that she is doing what she was created to do: “God uses me to ‘supply’ others with their needs in the position where He has placed me. I am positive about this!!! And I am safe in this position!!!”

 

God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

 Ephesians 2:10

Ruth: A Study Of Redemption, Week 6 – 04/02/13

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By , April 3, 2013 11:03 pm
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We began chapter 3 this week looking at Ruth as an example of a disciple and Boaz as a picture of Jesus. Through their interaction we see that Ruth was COMMITTED, COVERED, and COMFORTED.

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