I Was Scared

I’m only slightly ashamed that I was scared this morning. I was having breakfast with friends at Mel’s Diner when the thunderstorm many of us will never forget hit town. No one with me (and some were even older than I) had ever seen the sky that dark during the day. We watched hail through the security camera go on for some time. We couldn’t stop commenting on the ferocity of the wind. Being all men, we sort of laughed it off, but kept checking the weather radar on our smart phones and talked about nothing else. Finally someone suggested we adjourn to the men’s room. It took a few seconds before I realized he was serious. I don’t know if you have ever been to the men’s room at Mel’s downtown, but safety isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. For a few minutes this morning I was scared. I wasn’t the only one, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was.

It kind of feels good to admit that. Maybe we would all be better off if we could admit that sometimes we are scared. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s an impending medical procedure. Maybe it’s the thought of being jobless or just being old.

There’s nothing wrong with being scared and admit it. Courage is not never being scared. Courage is doing what needs to be done even when you are really scared. Jesus once sweat drops of blood. Don’t tell me He wasn’t scared. He did what needed to  be done anyway.

Don’t ever be scared to be scared. It means you are alive. Just don’t let it change your direction or make you not do what needs to be done. .

 

 

 

He Can Shoulder Your Burdens

“Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. Psalm 81:6

I suffered with my shoulders, particularly my left, for many months. When I would deal with a drive through window I could barely lift my arm to take the coffee, burger or health food. Okay, so no health food. I eventually couldn’t handle it any longer and went to the doctor. The doc is a friend so I trust his opinion very much. After two scary (to me) MRI procedures, my friend  recommended surgery on both shoulders. One at a time, of course. I had torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders.  After some prayer I decided to put off the surgery.

I would like to say being a man of great faith I rejected surgery in favor of faith healing. That would not be true. Something from my last surgery messed me up bad. I am not a friend of pain. I have a lot going on. Oh, and I guess God could heal it. I turned it over to God, sort of, and hoped for the best.

I applied the medication for pain my friend prescribed a couple of times. I continued taking over the counter stuff for a while and then just stopped. It was a while before I noticed that the shoulders didn’t hurt any more. One day it may be time for surgery, but apparently, now is not the time.

I believe God took the load from my shoulders. I just wish I had believed He would before He did. Got something you are shouldering and the burden is getting too much for you? Turn it over to God. Maybe you can do so with more confidence and faith than I did. Nevertheless, apparently all we need is a mustard seed worth. That’s all I had. It turns out that’s enough.

 

 

Memories

nick and rose engaged repaired

My wife and I had a great time in bed the other night. Now that I have your attention. We were looking at old pictures. This one is from early 1970. We were engaged at the time and married in May of that year.  I highly recommend looking at old pics with a loved one. It was a wonderful exercise.

Thanksgiving Booster.  Sometimes we need to remember all that we have to be thankful for. Looking at forty plus years of pictures really let’s you know how much you have to be thankful for. It really has been a wonderful life.

Priority shifter.  Looking at the pictures we didn’t focus on cars we owned or houses we lived in or clothes we “loved.” We looked at people and not just any people, but “our” people, each other, children, grands and great grands.  We were reminded of friends and loved ones lost. Looking at old pics really can shift your priorities that might have ever so briefly gotten out of line.

Faithfulness.  In the years of pictures, I  saw evidence of the faithfulness of God and  of my spouse. We have been through a lot. We often felt God was missing. Looking back He wasn’t. He was there. Rose and I have been there for each other. Faithfulness gives you a warm fuzzy about the past. More importantly, it gives you hope and courage for the future.

Reality check. Comparing old pics and what is in mirror is a real reality check. It’s funny how we often picture ourselves as we were years ago. We ain’t the same. God ages us, hopefully mellows and matures us. He separates us from our material concepts of beauty and youth. We remember He loves us consistently and we love each other more than when we were “hot.” There is something really cool about that.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Too Blessed 2 B Stressed

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Christians shouldn’t really ever be over-stressed. A bit of stress is necessary to motivate us to do the things we need to do and to avoid the things that should be avoided.  When we talk about being stressed, we really mean over-stressed.  Too much stress is bad, really bad. It distracts us and can, in the worst cases, freeze us into dangerous inactivity.

Stress is a tool of Satan. Stress summarizes all that satan tries to throw at us. He tries to rush us,  frighten us, push us, confuse us, condemn us, discourage and worry us. Aren’t these things all the elements of stress?

When we say we are “too blessed to be stressed” we don’t mean our life is stressor-free? Christians have the same problems as everyone and often a lot more. We have a higher standard and calling than most. We have as much reason to be stressed as anyone.  However, as Christians we have three things going for us that non-followers don’t have.

Perspective.  Satan uses “what if” to stress us. What if you lose your job? What if you lose your spouse? What if you get cancer? What if… What if… What if… Christians have the perspective response. So what? If we carry any “what if” to its final conclusion. We might die. If we do, we get to be with the Lord. So what do we have to fear?

Promises.  The non-follower is set up for stress. He has no assurance of anything. Followers have promises. The Word of God is full of them. They cover all of life. We aren’t promised rose gardens, earthly riches, or stressor-free lives. We are promised protection.

Protection. In Christ there is peace and protection. It’s not protection from problems or persecution. It’s protection against the loss and the fear of loss of the only thing that really matters, Jesus. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6.

Position We have a position in Christ. Our reliance is on Him who is sure. Our position gives us the prospective, promises and protection, that insure that stressors won’t consume our lives or guide our paths.

In Christ, we are stilled, reassured, lead, enlightened, forgiven, calmed, encouraged, and comforted. We are too blessed to be stressed.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Be Blessed

 

Listen to the song.

We pray for blessings

We pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

(Chorus)
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Chorus

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Chorus

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Blessings by Laura Story

It’s kind of tough to be a Christian these days. Like the Christians in Rome adopted the symbol of the fish to identify each other, we’ve got the code word, “Blessing.” We tell each other to “Have a Blessed Day.” or “Be Blessed.” We answer the question, ‘How are you?” with “I’m blessed.”  Both parties walk away from such encounters knowing they have been with a brother or sister.

But how can we “be blessed?” What control do we have over blessings? Don’t they come from God? Don’t we either have them or we don’t? Are we really blessed every day or even every time we say we are?

I’m learning that the blessed Follower often has no more blessing than the miserable one. He or she just can recognize His blessings. Sometimes we are just too self-centered or too much into our pity party to recognize blessings.

Other times the blessings just aren’t so obvious. Just as in Laura Story’s song. Sometimes they are disguised as raindrops, tears, sleepless nights or trials. Sometimes we just can’t see them because we forget or don’t trust His promises. We can’t seem to remember the evidences of His faithfulness.

Sometimes folks miss blessings because they fail to be a blessing. That’s the greatest blessing of all: to bless someone else. It doesn’t just do the someone else good. It does us good.

Be blessed. Really. In most ways it’s up to you.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

How Far Will God Go In My Life?

In my last post, I discussed how God uses a carrot and stick approach to draw us to Himself. I spoke in generalities, which I hope was useful for understanding. However, what’s important is application in each of our lives. How far will God go in my life to bring me to Himself?

Unless we see God mirrored what we experience in our lives (the carrot) and unless the insufficiency of our world to truly satisfy is clear to us (the stick), we won’t be drawn to God and follow His Son in executing His plan for us. God truly has a plan for us. It’s not the bed of roses, worldly success, prosperity plan that is far too often preached. It’s a plan that includes more of Him and less of the world. It replaces temporary pleasure with eternal satisfaction. It substitutes fun with fulfillment. It can look miserable and foolish when, in fact, it’s great and glorious. It can seem fanciful, when it’s the only thing that’s real.

If instead of God we seek riches, we will never feel rich enough. If we cling to youth and beauty in place of mature growth in Him, we will never feel young, pretty or healthy enough. If our lives are all about us, they will never be about Him.

He never steals our wills since He wants us to come to Him freely, but He will shut doors, lighten paths and call our names in the night. He will allow us to be unsatisfied with what the world promises will satisfy. He has created a hole in His children, that only He will fill. Sometimes He will allow that hole to pain more than hunger and to motivate more than thirst.

If nothing seems to work, if there never seems to be enough, if happiness seems illusive and life is joyless, rejoice. The hound of heaven is on your tail. He wants your salvation, but isn’t satisfied with it. He wants you. He won’t be satisfied until you want Him above all. Be thankful, that you’re close enough to feel his breath. Anticipate, that He’s got a purpose for you and, unbelievably, wants more of you.

He wants you, all of you. You are truly blessed, no matter what anyone else sees or thinks.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Just How Far Will God Go?

I think as Christians most of us realize that we were created for a relationship with God. We know that God wants that relationship to be voluntary on our part. Just how far will God go to carry out this end?

Consider this. Jesus told us not to fear more times than He told us anything else. We can assume being fearless is important. Yet, we live in a world with storms, disease, violence, destruction, wasps, snakes, spiders, ISIS and the IRS. How are we supposed to be fearless?

We tell each other that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, but His plan for His son was humiliation, rejection and painful death on a cross. How can we expect a better plan for us?

God said we, His followers, would do greater things than He did. He did some pretty awesome stuff. We can’t seem to get out of bed, lose weight, raise kids without criminal records, pay bills or invite people we know really well to church.

Is there an explanation for all this plain madness? I think there is. It came to me in the middle of the night last night. I didn’t eat anything strange before bed so maybe this revelation is valid. I think it’s all about us not realizing just how far God will go to carry out His ends.

Consider this explains why he would allow His Son to be crucified. It explains fearful things like storms, disease, violence, destruction, wasps, snakes, spiders and ISIS and the IRS. It explains why rich people never seem to have enough money, why politicians never have enough power, why strong people feel they aren’t strong enough, why beautiful people spend tons on beauty aids. It also explains why the truly richest of us have no money, why some of the strongest have no muscles, why the biggest world changers are very ordinary, why some of the most beautiful are “deformed freaks.” It explains why ordinary folks can do greater things than Jesus did.

God, it seems, will go to any length to get us to turn to Him. To be in relationship with him we have to be truly humble, acknowledged as weak, and totally incapable of real success. We have to realize that our ONLY peace and security is in Him.

He uses a two-fold carrot-and-stick plan. He places us in a world that in many ways faintly mirrors His glory in natural beauty, the preciousness of children, the ecstatic state of love, rare instances of human self-sacrifice. These are carrots drawing us to the idea and person of a great and wonderful God. He also places us in a world with storms, disease, violence, destruction, wasps, snakes, spiders and ISIS and the IRS. That the stick that drives us to something better, Him.

When we find ourselves in Him. He can do anything through us, which means it will appear as if we are doing greater things than Christ did.

Of all the great attributes of God some of the least appreciated are his smartness and his drive. How Far Will God Go? All the way.

The Way

5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” John 14

The followers of Christ were first called “The Way.” It seems now a more proper name than “Christians” who now seem to include people who don’t believe Jesus is THE way and some who are only slightly sure He’s one of the better ways.

I realize that it is the highest political incorrectness to suggest that there is but one way, or one truth or even one life. I think we might have lost the name, The Way, when becoming a Christian became politically correct and the exclusiveness of Jesus became incorrect. Maybe it’s time we stand on incorrectness and those who don’t like it be damned. For in fact, they are.

It seems as Christians we have tried too hard to be nice, to avoid offense. When we have chosen to be tough, we haven’t picked our battles well. We need to stop acting like homosexuality, or liberalism or conservatism is THE sin. We need to stop acting as if there is a political solution to sin. We need to stop squabbling with brothers because they worship slightly differently, have different social customs,  or disagree with us in matters of insignificant theology.

We need to boldly proclaim that there is only one way and it is open to all who have sinned no matter how public or private their favorite sin might be. (Yes, I think most of us have a favorite sin, that we sometimes argue isn’t really a sin.) We need to acknowledge there is one truth and that includes the distressing fact that all have sinned and fallen short. We need to acknowledge Jesus as the only solution. We need to live the one life that consists of repenting and following Jesus before all else.

I love my church, but if I had to start my own it would look something like this: It would be call The Way (Not the Way International, a cult that doesn’t even believe Jesus is God). We would meet at tables. I think at every meeting each person would have a chance to speak.  We would introduce ourselves as “Hi, I’m Nick. I’m a sinner.” I think the frequent self reminders would be helpful. Maybe everyone could respond with, “Amen to that.” Just so we don’t forget. We would talk about our struggles (our sins)  and our victories in Christ. Attendance would be open to all. Membership would be limited to acknowledged sinners who believe in and follow The Way (Jesus).

I don’t think we would need a big building. That kind of church doesn’t sound like enough fun for most folks, and would require much too much change and hard work.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com