my search to understand the bigger picture

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spiritual Birthday

Today is my Spiritual Birthday.

That's right, my SPIRITUAL Birthday. One of the things I love the most about my parents, and how they raised me, is that we celebrated my spiritual birthday every year. July 19, 1983 was the day that I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, with what little understanding I had at the time. Of course, I was only 6 years old, but ever since then I've been on a life long journey of getting to know Jesus more and more every day. Sure, I've had some ups and downs during that time, but I'm proud to say that I've never really strayed from that purpose. I never went through a time of rebellion. I've always had a deep love for God, and a deep desire to know Him more.

If anything, I'd say my main fault was regularly allowing God to transform me. That's where I've struggled the most. While I strove to know God more, I didn't always allow His presence to truly impact me. Many times in my life I've kept God at a distance, at arms length so to speak. There have definitely been times of growth as well, especially over the past few years. But I wish I could have been a little less stubborn, and a little more trusting.

In years past I've done different things to celebrate. But recently I've tried to simply take some time to reflect. This morning I ran a few miles of trails with a friend, and now am home the rest of the morning with my daughters. This afternoon and tonight I get to work. This weekend I get to steal away with my beautiful wife for a weekend with just the two of us. So, my goal today is simply to live in the moment, and be grateful for all God has given me. I got time on the trails, time with my family, time spent working, and time soon with my better half. What a gift!

I leave you with something I've shared numerous times in the past. A wonderful gift God gave me years ago. It's my favorite passsage of Scripture from The Message Bible found in Isaiah 42:16......

"But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way, who can't see where they're going. I'll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I'll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don't fall into the ditch. These are the things I'll be doing for them--sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute."

What wonderful promises! God's given me so many good insights over the years through this passage. Today, on my spiritual birthday, I want to celebrate and thank God for the wonderful life He's blessed me with, relationship with Him, family, friends, His word, nature, trail running, an amazing church family, and for always being my "personal guide".

Father, I love you! Thanks for welcoming me into your family!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Quotes

I've read a couple of shorter books lately that really had some refreshing thoughts that caught my attention. I thought I'd share a few of these with you here. This is what I've been thinking and chewing on as of late.......

From the book Out Of Solitude by Henri Nouwen

"Every human being has a great, yet often unknown, gift to care, to be compassionate, to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive. If that gift would be set free and made available, miracles could take place." -pg. 40

"A man or a woman without hope in the future cannot live creatively in the present." -pg.59

From the book Believing Prayer by Andrew Murray

"We naturally seek God's gifts, but God wants to give us himself first." -pg.18

"Let me see you as the fountain of life, working with your mighty strength to accomplish your will in the world and in me. Let me see your love that is longing to meet and fulfill all my desires. Let your love so take possession of my heart and life that through faith I will know you dwelling in me." -pg.19

"In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need for food and his enjoyment of it." -pg.26

"...fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything-even ourselves-to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." -pgs.27-28

"Ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and they seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its goods, entertainment, and creature comforts. But the truly consecrated soul is a soldier who carries only what he needs for warfare. Laying aside every weight, as well as the sin that comes easily to him, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a life of one who is specially set apart for the Lord and His service. Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain real power in prayer." -pg.28

"Is the prize not worth the price?" -pg.29

"Just as a tree's root is hidden in the ground and its stem and leaf grow toward the sunlight, so prayer needs for its full development the secrecy in which the soul meets God alone as well as the public fellowship with those who in the name of Jesus find a common meeting place." -pg.42

"Leran to give God time: time in your daily fellowship with Him, time to exercise the influence of His presence; time to prove its reality. He will lead us from faith to vision; we shall see the glory of God." -pg.54

Out of all of these, what really struck a chord with me the most was "Is the prize not worth the price?". So often I get caught up in the moment, especially when struggles, trials, etc come into play. Running has been on my mind so much lately that my mind immediately went to drawing conclusions regarding this phrase as it pertains to running. But, as I let the phrase linger in my mind, God began to open my eyes to more important things, and how this applies to them. I think I'll keep this phrase around for a little while and see what God wants to do with it in my life.