Friday, July 16, 2010

Leave a Trace

For the second consecutive summer, my wife and I are spending a good chunk of our vacation touring US national parks. I see signs at park entrances, visitor centers, in the park brochures, etc. urging park visitors to "Leave no trace" of their visit. The gist is to pick up your garbage, recycle and not impact the park, really to reduce man's impact on the land. While we could debate how we as bible-believing Christians should interact with, use and steward the earth, the thing that strikes me about this "Leave no trace" campaign is that is opposite of what we are to do with our lives as followers of Jesus.

We too are visitors, even aliens, on this earth. But God has called us to impact this world -- think people instead of the terra firma -- for His kingdom. How are we to do so?

  1. Focus on the eternal
    If we are going to leave a trace, we must focus on eternal things. There are only two eternal things in this world -- God's word and people. As Pastor James has exhorted us many times, invest yourself in them.

  2. Invest in God's word
    Dig into it. Memorize it. Delight in it. (Think of Pastor Dave Learned's recent message on Psalm 1.) Be an active participant in being changed by God's word. And give the Holy Spirit some ammunition for when you interact with others -- believers or the unsaved -- by memorizing God's word. Remember "Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).

  3. Invest in people
    Look around. Who has God put in your life? Invest in them. Be like the Apostle Paul. Find your Timothy. Teach him what a faithful brother or sister has taught you (2 Timothy 2:2). Continue to reproduce spiritually. The Apostle John took this role very seriously and seems to have delighted in being a spiritual father to many faithful spiritual children. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4).

  4. Decrease to increase
    Be intentional about God increasing in your life. Get out of the way. Drop your preferences and prideful "look at me" attitudes and actions. Become more and more of a bondservant for Christ and His purposes. As John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). This was spoken by the man about whom Jesus said "I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John" (Luke 7:28a). But look at how Jesus finishes the sentence: "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7:28b).

Go ahead. Leave a trace spiritually. All the glory will rightfully go to God.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside the Boat

When I was a teenager, we went to Great America every summer. I still remember the safety announcement for the Yankee Clipper flume ride, as you were getting in the boats, while you waited to go up the incline for all the fun. "Keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times." I thought of this recently as I read Mark 4:35-41.

When Jesus says, "Let us go across to the other side" in v. 35, the disciples go with Him. They are close to Him, in the boat with Him when a "great windstorm" comes. Notice that the storm comes at night when it’s dark and after a day of ministering when everyone was tired. The waves are filling the boat with water. The disciples are afraid. They fear for their lives. So what do they do?

The disciples go to Jesus calling out for help. They aren’t concerned about bothering Jesus. The disciples don’t consider jumping out of the boat and swimming for it. They don’t try to get in a different boat thinking it might be a better fit to survive the storm. Rather the disciples call out to their Lord for help.

This seems simple enough. The disciples were in serious physical peril. Of course they called out to Jesus. But what are you doing in the current storm in your life? Are you in the boat with Jesus? Have you called out to Him? Do you trust Him to steer through the storm?

If you aren't near Jesus, turn to Him today. When He says, "Let us go," get in the boat and go with Him. You are either in a storm or about to be. The best position in the storm is in the boat with Jesus. Keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times.