Willing To Risk

David walked right out

to meet the giant man

 

Paul faced persecution head on

in each town he entered

 

Mary bowed her will

and bravely carried God’s Son

 

Noah stepped into the unknown

in the face of ridicule and stares

 

and

 

My Jesus resolutely chose to die

for this world of people we live in

 

So,

will I be a person

willing to risk it all

when God speaks?

 

Will I bow my will to His?

 

Will I live my life differently

because of my life in Him?

 

I will,

by His power

 

And I am able to step out in faith

because I serve a faithful

God

 

– Susie Stewart

 

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands… and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”

– 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)

 

The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

– Acts 23:10 (NIV)

 

The angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. See! You are to become a mother and have a Son. You are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the place where His early father David sat. He will be King over the family of Jacob forever and His nation will have no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I have never had a man.” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you. The power of the Most High will cover you. The holy Child you give birth to will be called the Son of God.

“See, your cousin Elizabeth, as old as she is, is going to give birth to a child. She was not able to have children before, but now she is in her sixth month. For God can do all things.” Then Mary said, “I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel went away from her.

– Luke 1:30-38 (NIV)

 

Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

– Genesis 6:22 (NIV)

 

 Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

– Matthew 26:36-39 (NIV)

 

Photo by Andy Stewart in the Garden of Gethsemane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worship with Abandon

Shout!

If you feel like it

 

Sing

If you feel like it

 

Whisper

If you feel like it

 

Bow

If you feel like it

 

Stand

If you feel like it

 

Dance!

If you feel like it…

 

Self,

Worship God with abandon!

 

Don’t just reserve your strong emotion

for things of this world

 

Nothing here should thrill you

like God!

 

May ALL that is within me

praise the Lord!

 

– Susie Stewart

 

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
praise His holy name.

– Psalm 103:1 (VOICE)

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

– Psalm 103:1 (NKJV)

 

Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

– Psalm 146:1,2 (NLT)

 

I was privileged to hear Joni Eareckson Tada speak Saturday night at the Desiring God Conference.  Most of you know Joni, a quadriplegic, was paralyzed 38 years ago in a diving accident.  She gave a great and convicting message but as the time of worship began, I saw something that was more impressive than anything I heard.  I saw Joni dance.

Joni handles her wheelchair as deftly as any Nascar driver on a racetrack.  No sooner had the music begun than Joni began to “dance”.  As much as a quadriplegic can dance, she danced.  Joni has just enough movement and strength in her hands and shoulders to grip the controls on her chair and maneuver herself without the aid of others.  Suddenly the chair began to move with the music.  She thrust forward, then backward, then forward, then backward.  Smoothly, and yet with obvious passion, she turned to the right, then the left, then the right again.

Suddenly, the forward and backward and side to side movements gave way to spinning.  Well, as much as a paralyzed person can spin.  Joni began to turn her chair in circles, first clockwise, then back again.  If she ceased her movements, if was only so that she could lift her contorted hands as high as her paralysis would allow.  It wasn’t very high, but who’s measuring!

I had to ask myself why I often stand like a vertical cadaver.  I have the glorious gift and privilege of being able to celebrate God and honor Him with my body.  I can kneel, lift my hands to heaven, fall prostrate, clap, and yes, move to the right and left and dance.

I went home thinking about Joni and thinking about her God.  What kind of God is this who can inspire such freedom and joy in one who, from a human point of view, would appear to have very reason to hate Him?  What kind of God is this who has the qualities and characteristics and attributes and beauty and glory that He can be found worthy of the praise and gratitude and “dancing” of a woman who’s spent the last 38 years in a wheelchair?  Wow!  Now that’s some God!

– Dr. Sam Storms

 

I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!…

– 2 Samuel 6:21,22 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Secret

I know a secret….

 

it’s one I want to spread

to anyone reading this

 

Paul shared what he had learned

and I listened

 

for I myself needed what this secret offered

 

and all of us do

 

It’s a secret

about how to be content

 

and not just content when things are pleasant

but content in any circumstance

 

How can that be when I’m not happy?

When things are not going as planned?

When I suffer and I don’t know why?

or

All is stripped away?…

 

What then?

 

How can I be content

when important things

important people

important well-being

keep me happy

enable me to do what I do things

are stripped away

 

What then?

 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

So there

I said it

 

The secret is out

 

and it has been

since Paul penned those words so long ago

 

and it was known in the hearts of many of his predecessors

 

Joseph in a prison

David on the run

Ruth in a foreign land

Hosea with a wayward wife

Noah on a rockin’ boat

Moses with an overwhelming job

Esther in a palace of pressure

Jonathan with relatives closed to truth

Abraham never able to settle down

Isaac with work piled high

Jonah with a task unbelievable

and the list goes on

 

and the stories go

that each one came to find

that trusting God

and following God

and surrendering to God

is where you find contentment

 

in the messes

and the inconveniences

and the hardships

of life

 

and we each have our head-kept lists

of why discontentment is an option

 

and then we remember the secret

to being content

in any

and all

circumstances

 

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

 

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

– 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NLT)

 

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (NLT)

 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

– Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

 

Photo taken by Arik Stewart