Lessons from Lobsters

What determines value? How is the importance, worth, or usefulness of something or someone determined?

Last week Mark, Kayla, and I went on yet another mini vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, where we swam, hiked Mount Major, and ate a lot of ice cream!

We also spent a day on the coast of Maine. One option the small coastal town had to offer besides stores selling merchandise, was a lobster boat ride.

As we cruised off shore the lobstermen told all about lobstering, and as they checked their lobster pots we learned about the value of lobsters. We learned that lobsters have different types of value. Not every lobster pulled from the lobster pot was valuable to the lobstermen to sell for food. We learned there are some lobsters that are valuable for other reasons; the lobsters that were too small needed more time to grow, the lobsters that were too big were considered good breeders, and the lobsters carrying eggs all needed to be thrown back into the sea. But then a lobster with no claws was pulled from the pot. This one had no value for sale or for future generations and probably became the lobsterman’s lunch.

When the lobstermen pulled their lobster pots up out of the water they were filled with lobsters, some with value, some with future value, and some with no value.

Watching this procedure reminded me of these verses in Matthew 13…

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

Jesus chose every day life situations to be examples of spiritual life. The people of His day knew the procedure of casting nets and pulling in whatever was caught. They knew there would be good fish and bad fish mixed together within the nets. They understood the importance of separating the good from the bad. The good fish would provide money and food, they were of value to the fishermen. The bad fish were of no value, they couldn’t be sold for money or used for food. They were useless, and so thrown out.

Jesus used this example of value from every day life to explain the value of people in God’s eyes.

Reading through another story Jesus told I find He defines the difference between wickedness and righteousness…

With his pockets full of money, the inheritance he received from his father, the prodigal son set off in search of things that he considered valuable. His father’s fortune was the answer to all his desires and dreams and they were about to come true!

And so he enjoyed himself as he spent his money on the things he placed value on; pleasure, friends, food…

Then there came a day when the money ran out. With no more money those things that had been so valuable began to fade until they were gone completely.

When all of the things of this world were stripped away he came to the end of himself.

All that was left were his memories.

Memories hold within them the power to determine what is truly valuable.

Along with the memories of his pleasure seeking, the prodigal son had memories from his father’s house.

As he began to think about his father’s house he realized even the life of a servant held more value than what he had there in the pig’s pen.

And so, with those memories, those thoughts in his mind, he decided the things in his father’s house, even the role of a hired servant, were of greater value than the things of this world, and began his journey back.

What we value will determine our actions!

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:20-24

The father’s response is a picture of what God values.

Even though his son had rejected him, placed no value on the things he provided, and squandered all he gave him, the father welcomed him with open arms.

The father valued his son and he valued his return.

His son’s return and his confession showed the father that he had changed what he valued; he turned from the deception of the world to the truth of His father.

And that was what made his son so valuable!

This is what made him righteous so he could wear the finest robe, it made him worthy to wear a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, and it was this new life that brought out the fattened calf and began the party of great celebration!

Like the prodigal son we all have within us the desire to value the things of this world. Since Satan was cast down from heaven he has deceived mankind of what is truly valuable and has stolen man’s value with his lies.

But God so loves us that sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the high price of salvation so that when we come to the end of self and see that this world has nothing of true value, we will come to Him and receive His embrace, be clothed in His robe of righteousness, and enter into His house forever.

That is where true value is found!

Take a moment and ponder these stories of Jesus. Ask God to show you if perhaps you are putting too much value on things of this world, and if so, remember, He is waiting for your return and will greatly rejoice when you choose to value Him above all else!

Jesus Alone is Our Rescuer!

Are you in need of a rescue? Sometimes life brings storms that knock you down, overwhelm you, and overpower you.

Mark, Kayla, and I went to see Jesus this past Saturday. Well, obviously not the real Jesus, but the production entitled, “Jesus” at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. It was a wonderfully choreographed  performance portraying the rescuing power and love of Jesus!

Scene after scene people faced emptiness, illness, and hopelessness. They faced the storms of this world that the enemy meant for their harm. They had no way of filling their empty nets or their empty stomachs. Many suffered for years with illness, even sought the help of doctors, but didn’t get better. While others hoped for love, only to be left thirsty and condemned. But it was through those very storms Jesus intended to bring them good and to show them His glory!

In the presence of Jesus the winds of doubt and unbelief were calmed, the waves of worry and fear ceased, and the drowning weight of sin was lifted and forgiven. Whatever the need, whatever the storm, Jesus was the Rescuer!

However, there were several stories where there was no rescue, there were some lives that weren’t changed. Some of the people Jesus encountered were proud and didn’t believe they were in need of His help. They had created a reality for themselves that didn’t allow for need. They kept themselves above and separate from the storms of life. But it was deception. Their proud, unbelieving hearts wanted the praise of men and so they did all the “right things” to be admired by others. Meanwhile their hearts were raging with storms of sin; jealousy, hatred, and murder.

Jesus will only rescue those who want to be rescued!

There was a storm raging within me this past year. It began with a pain in my shoulder. I’m not sure the cause, but it seemed to begin when I was mowing the steep hill behind our house. I had pulled the mower backward up the hill and thought that I strained something. The pain continued into the fall and actually became much worse, even to the point that my neck was in constant pain too with some nerve issues causing tingling in my fingers. Of course I googled my symptoms and found several diagnoses, but every time I picked up my phone to call a doctor, I couldn’t make the call.

When I asked God about it I sensed He had a purpose for it. Though it was a storm meant by the enemy for my harm, I believed God would work it together for my good and intended for it to show me that Jesus alone is my Rescuer!

During this time there was another storm raging, a turbulent relationship. I believed there was a connection between these two storms.

I don’t know if it was stubbornness or faith, but as time went on I became confident that God would heal my shoulder and He would calm the turbulent relationship!

So I chose to endure the pain in my shoulder, allowing the pain to remind me to pray about the situations involved in the relationship and to learn how to rely on Jesus alone to bring supernatural rescue.

What I really appreciated about the performance of “Jesus” was the simplicity of rescue as Jesus met the need of every one who came to Him. The only things required of those Jesus rescued were actions of faith.

They needed to lower their nets when they had already fished all night, and they needed to find a couple loaves and fishes, so Jesus could fill their emptiness.

They needed to push through the crowd to touch His robe, and go and wash in the Pool of Siloam to be healed.

And they needed to receive His love and forgiveness to find hope.

This is what I believe God wanted me to learn as I was faced with these storms of life.

The simplicity of rescue requires actions of faith!

I had tried to rescue the relationship on my own…

When the wind and waves brought worry and fear I tried to rescue the relationship with control.

Then when control didn’t work I became frustrated and just wanted to give up altogether.

My attempts of rescue didn’t work.

Just as there was nothing I could do to heal my shoulder, I began to realize there was nothing I could do to calm the turbulent relationship.

Sometimes I felt foolish for putting up with the pain in my shoulder when I knew I could go to a doctor and have it taken care of. But then I would think, as painful as my shoulder is and as much as I want it to feel better, I want even more for this relationship to be healed.

There is a simplicity, almost a foolishness, in the ways Jesus rescues. His rescue is not from man’s perspective or within man’s understanding. Every story in the performance of “Jesus” involved supernatural love, and supernatural power.

And so I chose to take my eyes off the wind and waves and chose instead to look to Jesus. With my eyes on Him, He calmed my worries and fears, and brought peace to my mind. In His presence I could hear His voice tell me the actions of faith I needed to do so that healing and restoration would come.

And now, along with all those who Jesus rescued,  I too have a rescue story. Because of those storms I was given the opportunity to stop relying on myself and chose to learn how to rely on Jesus alone! Those crashing waves have become the very things that have made me stronger and braver, they certainly were intended for my good!

And it was by Jesus’ power and love alone that my shoulder is completely healed and the turbulent relationship has been calmed!

Whether you get to go see “Jesus” or not, I pray you will choose to take your eyes off the wind and waves that are crashing over you and put your eyes on Jesus.

For Jesus alone is your Rescuer!

 

 

 

 

How Persistent are You?

Could difficulties or opposition be keeping you from pursuing a course of action? How persistent are you?

Persistence – firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

A course of action begins with excitement and enthusiasm. You have a vision of something that you want to accomplish and are filled with ideas and plans of how to bring that vision into reality. As you begin to put those ideas into action you are excited to see the potential they hold. As you implement your plans there is much enthusiasm to see them take shape.

But, what happens when those ideas lead to difficulties?

What happens when your plans are met with obstacles?

A course of action needs more than excitement and enthusiasm!

A course of action requires persistence!

“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he (Jesus) used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” Luke 11:5-8

Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer when He told them this story. Jesus knew story-telling was an effective way to teach spiritual lessons. His humanness gave Jesus personal experiences so He could physically understand from our perspective and tell stories that bridged the gap between the ways of the flesh and the ways of God.

This story speaks of persistence. There will be unexpected times when you need something you don’t have. No matter what cupboard you look into there is no bread, no cereal, no cookies; your cupboards are empty!

What do you do when faced with empty cupboards?

You ask, you seek, and you knock on the door of the one who has what you need.

But what if your question isn’t answered the way you want it to be? What if your seeking doesn’t bring about the results you need? What if the door isn’t opened to your knocking?

This is when you have a choice.

You can go back home believing that it was a waste of your time to ask. You can decide the one you thought could help you really couldn’t. You can determine that you will never knock on that door again.

Or, you can choose to be persistent!

You can choose to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking because you know deep down inside that the One who’s door you are knocking on does have what you need, will provide what you are seeking, and in the right time you will receive it.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

Mark, Kayla, and I visited the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island yesterday. Before we went I read about the history of the Statue of Liberty and learned that her story was filled many difficulties, opposition, and delays from the time she was first conceived in 1870, until she was finally placed on her pedestal in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886.

Though her presence has been, and perhaps still is, embraced by many and opposed by some, today the Statue of Liberty is the most visited National Park in America.

I am inspired by her story because it reminds me that I can’t allow difficulty and opposition to stop me from pursuing what I believe I’m called to do.

And though I know I can’t accomplish in on my own I can keep asking God and He will give me knowledge and understanding.

And though I don’t seem to have the time to work on it, I realize that when I seek God, He will help me to make it a priority over other things.

And though it seems like it will never come together, I can choose to keep knocking, for God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

Nothing good has come from nothing!

Now when I look at the Statue of Liberty I see an incredible work of art that has stood tall for generations holding high the torch that enlightens the world, and the book with “July 4, 1776,” representing freedom for all, and I’m reminded of the importance of persistence!

You too are called to a course of action that is meant to stand tall for generations. As a child of God you are the Light of the world; meant to be held high and bringing light to the world around you. You have been given a book of freedom, the word of God, to guide you and to share with others.

Holding onto these things; cherishing them and refusing to let them go, and extending them to others will be met with difficulties and opposition, but when you persistently stand tall, firm on the promises of God, you will leave a lasting legacy!

 

Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking…

How persistent are you?

 

 

Thirsty?

An update on my garden…

We have been harvesting a lot of veggies from our garden this summer.

We certainly are eating local, organic, and from farm to table!

 

Recently we experienced a dry spell and I was reminded of the importance of water. The plants weren’t affected much from the dryness, but the fruit of the plants were beginning to suffer. Some of the zucchini began to get yellow and shriveled at the ends, the tomatoes were small, and the spinach and kale grew slowly.

While hand watering was a help, it was not as good as God-given rain!

Water is essential!

The physical body can go three to four days without water.

But what about your spiritual body? How long can you survive without Living Water?

Jesus was passing through Samaria when He found himself tired and weary from a long walk. His disciples went off to buy lunch while Jesus sat to rest beside a well. A Samaritan woman came to get water for her household. She was surprised when He, a Jewish man asked her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink.

“Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?  John 4:10-11

The Samaritan woman needed to make that trip to the well to get water, it wasn’t something she could put off, there weren’t other things that were of greater importance, her physical thirst brought her to the well that day.

She came to the well prepared. She knew the well was deep and in order to get water she needed a bucket and a rope.

But that day the woman learned there are two types of thirst.

While she was consumed with her physical thirst, Jesus was consumed with her spiritual thirst!

Jesus understood the importance of the water from the well and without it she would die in several days. But He also understood the importance of Living Water. Without Living Water the woman’s thirst for love would never be quenched, she would have no joy, and would die without hope.

Jesus understands your physical thirst, but is passionate about your spiritual thirst!

Jesus was fully God and fully human. Tired, weary, and thirsty from His long walk, Jesus used His physical thirst to draw this woman into a conversation that would quench her spiritual thirst!

Jesus was able to look beyond the woman’s physical thirst and saw she suffered from a much deeper thirst, a thirst of her soul, that kept her looking to the affections of men, but never being satisfied.

Jesus knew He was God’s gift of love to her!

Jesus knew He was the Living Water that would permanently quench the thirst of her soul!

When Jesus exposed the bad fruit her life was producing, the woman knew He was a prophet of God, perhaps even the Messiah. The Living Water Jesus gave her, God’s gift of love, quenched her thirst and changed her instantly!

Once the Samaritan woman received the truth and drank it in, not only was the thirst of her soul quenched, but her story brought Living Water to all who lived in her town!

This story is a reminder that Jesus understands your humanness. He cares about the things that you need. And it is those physical needs that can be the very things that He uses to get your attention to draw you into conversation so that He can show you the deeper needs of your soul.

Jesus calls all who are thirsty to come to Him!

“Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!” John 7:37-38

Physical dehydration can come upon you slowly and you aren’t even aware until you experience the symptoms; increased thirst, headaches, dizziness, at which point you will do everything you need to so that you are rehydrated.

Spiritual dehydration can come upon you slowly as well. Much of life may seem normal, but when you begin to look at the fruit of your life it may show symptoms of dehydration. Your love may be turning towards the wrong things, you may find you aren’t as joyful as you once were, your patience may be wearing thin…

It is recommended you drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day.

What about Living Water? How much are you drinking each day?

God’s gift to you; Jesus, the Living Water, is always available to show you the deeper thirsts of your soul. And once you know the truth and drink from Him you will be satisfied, and produce good fruit. 

Are you drinking enough?

I hope I’ve made you thirsty!

Grab a tall glass of ice water and your Bible and drink!

 

 

Remember to Not Forget!

Do you suffer from forgetfulness?

I certainly do, I just walked into my daughter’s room to wake her up and forgetting what day it was I reminded her to wear her orange shirt for camp today. A few seconds later she said to me, “It’s not orange day.”

We all forget things from time to time. The consequences of forgetting can range from wearing an orange shirt to camp when everyone else is wearing blue, to something far greater.

From the very beginning when God first chose Abraham and called him out of his land to go to a new land He would provide for him and his family God has intended for His people to be set apart from all others. God intended for His people to know him, to love Him, and to never forget Him. God promised that by not forgetting Him, His people would experience freedom and blessings that would prove His supernatural power and love.

But the Israelites suffered from forgetfulness!

And though David wrote of the hope and life that comes from not forgetting God…

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:7

“I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” Psalm 119:16

“I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.” Psalm 119:93

David suffered from forgetfulness!

It’s easy to forget!

Mark, Kayla, and I went on “The Walk over the Hudson” this past Saturday, and afterwards visited the Vanderbilt Mansion that is nearby. I haven’t read too much of their history, but one sentence I heard about them really caught my attention and causes me to ponder. Though Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest man in America, and his son went on to double his fortune, and then became the richest man in America, the family fortune was gone by the third generation. There were many factors that played into it, World War 1, and the Great Depression, but it seems as though the family suffered from forgetfulness.

Definition of forgetfulness – Marked by neglectful or heedless failure to remember

So, if forgetting is the result of not remembering…

to beat forgetting is to remember!

History is recorded so that we can learn from those who have gone before us. We can learn from their successes and from their failures. We will either choose to learn from their mistakes and change our actions or we will choose to continue in the ways they lived and encounter the same consequences they suffered. God reminds us of the importance of not forgetting what our ancestors have gone through.

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground.” 1 Corinthians 10:1

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:25

We can’t forget something we never learned.

We can’t remember something we never knew.

With so much information instantly available to us today it seems as though we should be able to learn valuable lessons, and we should know many things that will benefit us. But, instead it seems the ease of accessing information keeps us from really taking in information so that we never fully learn or know the things we need to.

Why study something when we can just look it up again tomorrow? 

To not forget requires intentional learning!

Remembering requires intentional knowing!

I have found that the more important something is the more I will do to make sure I don’t forget. I will put it on my calendar, write myself a note and leave it in a very visible place, send myself an email…

God knows we are prone to forget, so He tells us many times in the Bible to not forget, and He reminds us many times to always remember. So, if you find yourself forgetting God…

What is causing you to neglect God?

Why is it that you are failing to remember God?

How important is God to you?

It is in the forgetting that you experience bondage and suffering due to poor choices. 

It is in the remembering that you experience the freedom and blessings of God. 

While there is a great difference between the consequences of wearing the wrong color shirt, and losing the family fortune, the consequences of forgetting God are even greater.

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26

May you make it your priority to never forget to remember God!