Life with Lively: Confessions of a ROCK

 

I have something in common with Tad Schultz… I can’t swim. I wish I could swim; I’ve had lessons, but the moment the water hits me in the face, I panic. It sucks. I love splashing around in the pool during the hot 100 degree summer days, but there is something about the water in my face that just ends all the fun.

A couple of years ago, my wife (Lela) and the kids talked me into taking them to a local lake for the day. I dreaded the entire drive down there. We got to the swimming area, the wife and kids went straight to the water, and I sat on a towel and watched. It looked like fun. They were enjoying themselves and I was stuck in the hot sand.
“It wouldn’t hurt to just get my feet wet would it?” So I sat down at the water’s edge. It felt good, so I waded out a little further. Now I’m waist deep and throwing the football with the boys. The girls are lounging in their float rafts, Lela is swimming around, and we are having a good time. I waded out a little farther. Now I was pushing it. Courtney had called me over and I walked over to her. She was laying on a float raft, and I was standing beside her talking, the water level was striking me right at my neck.
Then it happened. The ground I was standing on disappeared from underneath me. I slipped in a hole and now, this 6 foot tall oaf, was standing in 7 foot deep water. I jumped up breaking the water’s surface and gasped for air. I realized Courtney’s raft was close enough for me to grab, but if I grabbed it chances are I’d tip her over and bring her under with me, making the situation worse. I hit the bottom and jumped up again. This time when I broke the surface, I saw Lela, about 30 yards away. “LELA!” I called, gasped for a breath and went back under, this time waving with my arms to get her attention.
My next trip to the surface I saw her swimming towards me. The final time I went under she grabbed my arm and drug me back to shallow water. Then she escorted me to the beach, sat me down, beat on my back to help me cough up the gallons of water I had swallowed; then she looked me in the eye and told me, “Don’t go back in the water.”

I spent the rest of the day reading a book.

Sin is a lot like that story. We all know we shouldn’t sin. But we sit on the proverbial beach and see people who live in sin every day, and seem to enjoy it. We know what they are doing is something we should not be a part of but it just looks like so much fun! Maybe if we just get our feet wet, that won’t hurt anything would it? So we dip our toe and realize it doesn’t feel so bad. So we wade in deeper. Soon we are up to our neck in it, just splashing away having a good time, and then it happens. Suddenly we are in over our head and can’t get out.
Our first reaction is to grab hold of the nearest thing that looks like it can save us. But quick fixes more or less make a bad situation worse. What we need is someone to come pull us from the sin, drag us to shore, and tell us: “Don’t go back in.”

Here’s the best part. Jesus is such a savior. His life, death and resurrection was all for the sole purpose of pulling YOU out of the water and saving YOU from sin.
This week’s devotional is being specifically written for someone. I don’t know your name, or your circumstances, but I know you are out there. You are in over your head in sin, you know it’s not where you should be in your life, but you can’t find a way out. I’ve been there, both physically as you have read above, and spiritually. But there is a Savior waiting to pull you to safety.

Accepting Jesus as your savior is simple. At my church we teach that salvation is as simple as ABC.

A is for Admit that you are a sinner and repent from those sins. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The first step toward treating any kind of problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. You cannot accept that God is offering you salvation, until you realize you have a need for salvation.

B is for Believe. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” John 3:16 says “Whosoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life!” Salvation is that simple. Believe that Jesus died for you.

C is for Confess. This one confuses some people. It’s not about confessing your sins. You have already done that by admitting your sins. Confess in this context is simply this: “HEY WORLD! JESUS CHRIST IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR!” Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

When we got home from our lake outing my dad called to see if we had a good time. The first thing I told him was how Lela has saved me from drowning. I was so grateful for what she had done I wanted to share it with everyone. This is the context we are using confession here. We should be so happy and grateful for Jesus salvation we should be ready to proclaim it to everyone we encounter.

Now, I’m sure that most of the people who watch the videos and read these devotionals have already accepted Jesus as their savior. This week God has laid salvation on my heart, and after 15 devotionals, I realized I’ve yet to cover the first and most important base. So those who are already Christians, just enjoy the story and tune in next week, this week may not be for you.

I just can’t help shaking a nagging feeling that somewhere out in the world-wide-web, someone is reading this who feels like they are in over their head. If you are that person, this message is for you: Jesus is waiting for you. He is there with open arms ready to pull you out of the water and radically change your life. Know that there are people praying for you, and there are churches full of people who have been exactly where you are right now, and would love to share their story with you, and help you grow closer to the Lord.

…And no Ray, I can’t even dog paddle, not even a little bit.

Life with Lively: Stepping Out Of The Boat

 

My step-daughter, Steph, is your typical teenage girl. She’s always putting a new and funky coat of paint on her nails, wants to wear the latest fashions, and her cell phone has grafted itself to her hand. She has that typical “the world should revolve around me” attitude that everyone has during those teenage years.

However, something spectacular happens whenever she is around people who are mentally challenged. The phone is put away, and the moody teenager is replaced by someone more loving and caring than Mary Poppins, and a smile even comes to her face.
Steph has a talent and a calling to work with people with special needs. I don’t know what it is, but it’s almost magical. It all started about three years ago. We have a little girl in our church who suffers from Down syndrome. Steph was asked to follow her around during Vacation Bible School that year, and when things got a little intense, she would take the girl for a walk, and find a quiet place to calm her down. The next year, Steph asked if the church would buy the special needs curriculum so she could teach this girl in a one-on-one setting. By the time school started this fall, Steph was teaching our first special needs class, and was already deep into a science project to discover how different foods affect kids who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders. While most of her friends were shopping or “hanging out,” she was locked in her room, nose into a text book, reading about the latest research. The big “she’s serious” moment came when she asked us to take her to Lubbock and let her spend the afternoon at the Texas Tech Medical Library. I tried to break it to her that they might not let high school students into the Library, and she quickly responded with, “Oh, I’ve already called and made sure I can get a card there and everything, I’ve even filled out the application already.”

While all this was going on, her friends were trying to get her to do “high school” stuff. One even complained that Steph was “going to the darkside into complete Nerdville.” She never wavered. Her science fair entry went over the head of the judges, and she didn’t advance, but she kept her chin up. She moved on, and began looking into plans for after high school. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Autism Specialist, and truth be told, as long as she keeps her focus, she’s well on her way to being one.
It’s a lot like the situation we find Noah in. God gave him a calling, and the talent to accomplish the task. People kept questioning him, making fun of him, and challenging him. But he kept his focus and finished the task, not letting the distractions bother him.
I’m reminded of the story of Jesus walking on water. A lot of people focus on Peter not having faith, but I look at this differently. Peter had the guts to get out of the boat.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:28-30)

I’m sure the others in the boat tried to talk Peter out of stepping on the water. But he did it anyway. He was well on his way to Jesus until the A.D.D. set in. The wind blew by and he took his eyes off of Jesus and he began to sink. Jesus came to his rescue and pulled him up. But until he lost his focus, he was walking on water!

God calls us to serve him in many different ways. He has given us the talent and abilities to do what he asks, and as long as we keep our focus on God, we will excel at whatever it is God has for us. We just have to learn to ignore the wind; to not let the naysayers and party poopers distract us from serving as God has commanded. Our job as God’s servants leads us in many different directions; some that others may not quite understand. We have to be able sort through the confusion and see God’s plan.
My prayer this week is that we have the guts to step out of the boat, no matter how strange and over our heads it seems. That we put our faith and focus on God’s will, and never waiver from God’s master plan.

15: Quirky Local Builds Ark

Tad Schultz interviews a local man, who’s built a giant structure. EweTube speaks out on how God might destroy the Earth.

The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

(Genesis 7, NIV ©2011)