The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf

June 18, 2008
Keep Recognizing Jesus

. . . Peter . . . walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid . . . —Matthew 14:29-30The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and "walked on the water." Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. Why couldn’t our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves, as well as on top of them? He could have, yet neither could be done without Peter’s continuing recognition of the Lord Jesus.

We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke, ". . . why did you doubt?" ( Matthew 14:31 ). Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him.

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, "Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?" Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.

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A poet once wrote: “As a rule, man’s a fool. When it’s hot, he wants it cool. And when it’s cool, he wants it hot. Always wanting what is not.”

What an insightful observation on human nature! So when we read in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” we wonder, Can this be possible?

For Paul it was. Philippians 4:12-13 describes Paul’s response to life: “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 everything through Him who gives me strength” (NIV). Paul’s relationship with God superseded whatever he did or did not have. His contentment was not based on his circumstances, but on his relationship with Christ.

Paul reminds us that contentment doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that we learn. As our relationship with God develops over time and through experiences, we learn to trust God more and ourselves less. Paul knew that Christ would give him the strength to persevere in whatever situation he encountered (v.13).

No matter what you’re facing today, through prayer you can receive the strength to be content.

The world is filled with so much good
That brings us joy and pleasure,
But true fulfillment only comes
When Christ we love and treasure. —Sper

We find contentment at the same place we find salvation—in Christ
Diana and Dave love to ride their jet skis on the lake, skimming across the water on warm sunny days. But one morning the weather was cool and mostly cloudy, and Diana couldn’t convince Dave to go out. So she went on her own. It was so cold that she flitted back and forth across the lake, trying to keep herself in the sunshine for some needed warmth. But every time she reached a sunny area, the clouds moved and it quickly turned to shade. Realizing the futility and silliness of chasing the sunshine, she finally gave up because it didn’t bring her what she wanted.

King Solomon did another kind of chasing that couldn’t bring him satisfaction (Eccl. 2:1). In the first 11 verses of Ecclesiastes 2 alone, he mentions that he chased after pleasure, laughter, wine, wisdom, houses, gardens, money, possessions, and music. But his evaluation was that “all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (2:11). Those pursuits were empty—“vanity of vanities” (1:2). He wisely concluded: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (12:13).

Are you chasing after some of the same things that Solomon was? It’s a vain pursuit. Purpose and satisfaction come only from knowing and obeying God.

Chasing after empty pleasure
Will not satisfy one’s heart;
But to those who follow Jesus,
Life’s fulfillment He’ll impart. —Sper

Only God can fill an empty heart
We know we’re getting older when we say things like, “Can you believe how young those professional baseball players are?” And it’s a sure sign of aging when we no longer ask, “How are you?” but say, “Hey, you look terrific”—as if we’re surprised.

Aging is inevitable. Unfortunately, society has taught us to fear advancing age and to disguise its reality as much as possible. But aging can actually be a wonderful thing. Followers of Jesus have the capacity to get significantly better with age. As Paul put it: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).

Just as there are physical signs that reveal we’re getting older, there are signs that show we are getting better. Rather than becoming more crotchety, intolerant, and unloving, the maturing follower of Jesus grows better at forgiving, loving, and caring. Growing older is a continuation of the journey to become more like Jesus, which means that as time goes on our heart and attitudes should increasingly resonate with and reflect the compelling character and winsome ways of our Savior.

So as we grow older, let’s embrace the opportunity to become spiritually more like Jesus. Our friends will notice that we look better with age.

The seeds of aging sprout in youth,
As weeds or grain they’re sure to grow;
But if we sow with love and truth,
A golden harvest we can know. —D. De Haan

Don’t just grow older— grow better as a follower of Jesus
Everything was quiet in our yard. While I worked at the patio table, our dog, Maggie, lay nearby in the grass. A slight rustling of dry leaves changed everything. Maggie made her move, and suddenly she was circling a tree, where a woodchuck clung tightly to the trunk.

Maggie came when I called, but I couldn’t get her to look at me. Her neck was in a rigidly fixed position. Although she was near me physically, her thoughts and desires were with that woodchuck.

Maggie and the woodchuck remind me of how quickly I become preoccupied with things that take my eyes off Jesus. Old temptations, new responsibilities, or ongoing desires for possessions or pleasure can quickly divert my attention from the One who knows and wants what is best for me.

A similar spiritual condition afflicted the Pharisees (Matt. 15:8-9). They were serving in the temple and instructing others, but their hearts were far from God.

We too can teach and serve at church but be far from God. Even our religious activity becomes meaningless when our focus is not on Jesus. But if we stop being “stiff-necked” (Acts 7:51), the Lord can turn our eyes away from worthless things and revive our hearts.

Some people follow Jesus Christ,
Then obstacles get in their way;
But if they’ll focus on the Lord
They won’t be led astray. —Sper

When Christ is the center of our life, all else comes into proper focus.
When the Pharisees came to Jesus with the woman caught in adultery and asked Him what should be done with her, He knelt for a moment and scribbled in the sand (John 8:6-11). We have no idea what He wrote. But when they continued asking Him, Jesus responded in one short sentence: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (v.7). His few words accomplished much in confronting the Pharisees with their own sin, for they walked away one by one. Even today those words resound around the world.

Jesus had such a closeness to and dependence on His Father that He said of Himself, “Whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (12:50). Oh, that we had such a relationship with our Father that we knew how to respond with His wisdom!

Perhaps it begins with obeying James’ challenge to be “swift to hear, slow to speak” (1:19). This is not the slowness of ignorance, emptiness, timidity, guilt, or shame. But the slowness of wisdom born of dwelling quietly on the Lord and His thoughts.

We’re often told to stop and think before we speak. But I think we should take it much further and live a life where we’re always listening for God’s wisdom.

Lord, grant that we may hear You speak;
For truth within our hearts we seek;
For unto Christ we would be true
And know what He Himself would do. —D. De Haan

Listen to God before you speak for God.
Robert Lowry felt that preaching would be his greatest contribution in life. However, this 19th-century pastor is best remembered for his gospel music and hymns. Lowry composed words or music for more than 500 songs, including “Christ Arose,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and “Shall We Gather at the River?”

In 1860, as the United States teetered on the brink of civil war, Lowry wrote these enduring words that focus not on threatening circumstances but on the unchanging Christ:
What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Lowry’s confidence in God during difficult times echoes the psalmist’s words: “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. . . . Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:3-5).

Whether we react to life with faith or fear depends on our focus. Knowing that “the Lord shall reign forever” (v.10), how can we keep from singing?

If you keep in tune with Christ, you can sing even in the dark
During the high schoolers’ spring ministry trip to Jamaica, they visited a home for troubled teens who had run afoul of the law or whose families could not handle them.

This was not a comfortable situation for the kids from either culture. What would they say? How would they connect?

It didn’t take long to find out. Minutes after they arrived, a soccer match began as a number of the US students engaged some of the Jamaican teens in spirited competition.

The soccer match was a great icebreaker as the kids kicked the ball around and got to know each other. After the game, conversation was easier and friendships were established more quickly because of a common interest.

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul demonstrated how to break through barriers and establish dialogue. He talked with the Athenians about something of common interest—worship. In a similar way, we can use sports talk with a co-worker or lawn conversation with a neighbor. The possibilities are endless.

To reach out to people who need to hear about God’s love, look for common language—and watch the barriers fall.

The Spirit of God can reach my neighbor,
Providing the gift of salvation,
If I am ready to open the way
By starting a good conversation. —Hess

God’s love can break down barriers
Lauren nervously yet excitedly hopped into a one-person kayak for a white-water rafting experience. After strapping herself in, she headed down the river with a group of kayakers and guides.

Lauren became even more nervous when she laid eyes on the falls ahead. Suddenly, as the kayak tossed and turned in the white water, it flipped over. She had been instructed on how to get out quickly if this were to happen. But she became disoriented as she hung upside-down in the water and couldn’t find the release bar to get out. She knew she couldn’t hold her breath much longer and thought she would soon be in the Lord’s presence. Then help came just in time and she was saved. Lauren was very grateful for her rescue from physical death.

An even greater rescue has been provided for us—rescue from spiritual death has come in the Person of Jesus Christ. While we were drowning in sin, God sent His Son Jesus to bring life through His own death and resurrection (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:5). He did so because He is “rich in mercy” and because of “His great love” (Eph. 2:4).

Out of gratefulness, we can help others by telling them of the Rescuer they so desperately need.

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. —Crosby

Those who’ve been rescued should be ready and willing to help in the rescue of others
During a church leaders’ conference at Seattle Pacific University, noted pastor Earl Palmer recalled an experience that shaped his teaching and preaching for half a century.

As a seminary student, he led a Bible study where he encouraged the participants to consider the words of Scripture. “I became convinced,” Palmer said, “that if I could get someone to look at the text, sooner or later the text would win their respect, and it would always point them to its living center: Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ has your respect, that’s not very many inches away from faith.”

Jesus told a group of religious leaders, who were well acquainted with the Old Testament but violently opposed to Him, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

It requires an open heart as well as an inquiring mind to study the Bible. When we discover Jesus as the Person to whom the entire Bible points, we must then decide how to respond to Him.

There is great joy for all who will open their hearts to Christ and find life in Him.

God’s Word is like refreshing rain
That waters crops and seed;
It brings new life to open hearts,
And meets us in our need. —Sper

The written Word leads us to Christ the living Word
Our world has become increasingly noisy. But according to a news report, science has found a way to achieve absolute silence: “Scientists have shown off the blueprint for an ‘acoustic cloak,’ which could make objects impervious to sound waves. The technology, outlined in the New Journal of Physics, could be used to build sound-proof homes, advanced concert halls, or stealth warships.”

When we seek out a quiet place for devotional time with God, we may wish we had an “acoustic cloak.” But even if we could silence all external sound, the internal noises of worry would still reverberate in our minds. We are told: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). But how do we calm our hearts in practical terms?

God understands our dilemma and has provided His own “acoustic cloak” to quiet our hearts. It involves exchanging our cares for His peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

As we place our concerns in God’s capable hands, we find a quietness that only He can provide.

Be still and know that He is God
For pathways steep and rough;
Not what He brings but what
He is Will always be enough. —Anon.

God gives peace to those who are quiet before Him
Five-year-old Jenna was not having a good start to her day. Every attempt to arrange the world according to her liking was having the opposite result. Arguing didn’t work. Pouting didn’t work. Crying didn’t work. Finally her mother reminded her of the Bible verse she had been learning: “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11).

Apparently Jenna had been thinking about this verse, because she was quick to answer: “But Mom, it doesn’t say that I won’t sin; it says that I might not sin.”

Her words are all too familiar. I often hear similar arguments in my own mind. There’s something very appealing about loopholes, and we look for them wherever there’s a command we don’t want to obey.

Jesus addressed this problem with religious leaders who thought they had found a loophole in their religious laws (Mark 7:1-13). Instead of honoring their parents with financial or material support, they dedicated all their possessions to God, thereby limiting their use. Although their disobedience was not blatant, Jesus said their behavior was unacceptable.

Whenever we start looking for loopholes, we stop being obedient.

Lord, help us to submit to You,
To follow and obey,
Instead of finding loopholes to
Defend our sinful way. —Sper

Even though we make excuses for not obeying God,
He still calls it disobedience
Got Botox? A lot of people do. Some take Botox treatments for health matters, but many take them because they want to look young again.

Appearance is so important to some Botox users that they allow themselves to be injected with botulinum toxin type A so that their wrinkles will disappear for a while. Later, the treatment must be administered again.

Botox is expensive, and it comes with possible negative side effects. But that doesn’t stop people from giving it a try so they can look better.

Of course, looking good is not a bad thing, but a more important consideration is how we look on the inside. How much are we willing to sacrifice to have beautiful character?

Are we willing to take some “Botox for the soul”—to inject ourselves with the kind of loving gentleness, merciful patience, caring interest in others, unselfish kindness, and unity of spirit that can beautify our lives? (Eph. 4:2-3). Are we willing to keep coming back to God for help in getting the spiritual character enhancement we need?

Looking for ways to look good? Search the Bible for character-building verses. Then through prayer and the Spirit’s empowering, inject the godly traits of those verses into your life. The side effects are all good.

Think not alone of outward form; Its beauty will depart; But cultivate the Spirit’s fruits That grow within the heart. —D. De Haan

Godly character is the best beauty treatment in the world


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