Tuesday, October 31, 2017

God Sightings

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV)

For almost my entire ministry on campus, I have challenged students to take a look around them to see God, to see what the Apostle Paul describes as His “invisible qualities” that he says can be seen, if we only are willing to look.  What has always been consistent is the students have rarely, if ever, done it. They struggle with the concept and find it difficult to recount where they have seen God. What about you?

If you are struggling with this as well, allow me to help by telling you where I have seen God in recent days. My wife and I live in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and it is October, which means the leaves have been changing color. I see Him daily as I look out upon the tapestry of colors and hues. He is such a creator of beauty. As the evening temperatures become much cooler, the night skies become clearer and the plethora of stars and planets practically shout out His awesomeness. The mountain weather is unpredictable and within the span of a few days we had both massive amounts of rain and high winds and snow, demonstrating the power of the Lord’s creation over which we mere humans have no control.  

However, it is not just in creation that I see the Lord, but also in people and situations.  As I am daily on campus or in town, I encounter numerous people, not one exactly the same.  Billions of people have walked and are walking the earth and each one is different. Though students have similarities with some others, all are unique in and of themselves. God is the creator of uniqueness. Recently, I saw God in a situation of division between family members starting to be resolved that had been months in the making and His fingerprints were easily seen in setting into motion a reconciliation process.  And every day my heart beats in perfect rhythm and functions normally, serving as a reminder of His healing power that I experienced over five months ago and all the gifted people He involved in it. God is all-powerful, but empowers humans as well to accomplish His will. I could go on and on.

As I try to explain to students, it is not that hard to see God; we only have to start looking. With a little practice, when we’re asked about our God sightings, we should easily be able to cite many.

Today, start compiling your own list. I guarantee you will start seeing Him in ways you never have before. And when you do, you will know how present He always is and how truly awesome is the God who created you.

© Jim Musser 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Following Jesus

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NIV)

“The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” (Acts 5:12-16 NIV)

Last week, I wrote about the fact that Jesus uses sinners and that our unworthiness before Him does not lessen His grace and His desire to use us, just as He did the 12 disciples.  This morning I want to further that thought.

These passages in Acts reflect the transformation Jesus promised the disciples when He first called them (Matthew 4:19) These men were no longer who they once were. They no longer feared the religious leaders. They were continuing the work of healing the Lord had begun. And people were taking notice.  

Following Jesus has that effect on people.  If one is truly following Jesus, his or her life will be changed and people will notice. Many, like the religious leaders of the 1st Century, will be troubled by what they see and try to persuade the believer to back away from Him or reject him or her outright.  Others, however, will be drawn to His light shining brightly through the Holy Spirit and put their faith in Him as well. Either way, the change is inevitable once one responds willingly to His command, “Follow me.”

Many believe that Jesus came to save us, which is true. But He came to do even more. He came to transform us into the men and women He created us to be. Like the disciples, we are sinners, unworthy of Him, but His command is the same to us as it was to them—“Follow me.” And if we do, not only will He save us, but, as with the 12 sinful and unschooled men, He will transform us in ways we can hardly believe and use us in ways that are now unimaginable.

Today, regardless of how you view yourself, Jesus is saying to you, “Follow me.” And if you do, He won’t just save you; He will transform you and use you in ways far beyond what you can imagine now.  He did it for the disciples and He will do it for you.

© Jim Musser 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Our Unworthiness to Follow Jesus

“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:1-11 NIV)

One of the biggest obstacles people face in the decision to follow Jesus is their sense of unworthiness.  They don’t feel good enough, confident enough, or passionate enough. They compare themselves to Jesus, His disciples, and people whom they view as “super Christians,” and they don’t measure up.  They may attempt to follow Jesus, but they often lag behind, weighed down by their perceived lack of qualifications, giftedness and worthiness, and without hope of moving up to the front, joining the spiritual leaders. 

This is an attitude I see often among students and, as with anyone, it is spiritually disabling. The focus is all wrong. As we are prone to do as fallen human beings, we can’t see beyond ourselves. We can’t see anything much beyond our lives that seem so messed up. So when Jesus comes calling, as He did at the shores of Lake Gennesaret, like the disciples, we are intimidated by His glory and perfection. And, like Peter, we are prone to push Him away, not because we hate Him, but rather because our sin becomes so glaring when He is around. We are ashamed and our guilt overwhelms us. So, it is much easier and more comfortable just to send Him away or to follow at a safe distance where His glory is less intense.  And the result is we fail to experience the riches of His grace.

Jesus was fully aware of the disciples’ sinfulness and imperfections. He knew about every person (John 2:25). Yet, He told them to follow Him and He would use them for the work of His Kingdom. They indeed weren’t good enough, but He was and that was all that mattered.  

This is the truth we each need to internalize: The Lord’s love for us and His ability to use us in spiritually significant ways is not dependent upon our goodness or what we have done or not done.  It’s solely dependent on His power to transform and use any life.  This is the truth we see played out in the lives of the first disciples as depicted in the New Testament—sinners, all of them, being used by the Lord to do His work on earth.

Today, if you are struggling with your own unworthiness to follow Jesus, get over yourself and your inadequacies, for they are no match for the power of the Lord. If He can transform the lives of some 1st Century fishermen and tax collectors, using them to begin His Church, then He is more than able to transform you and similarly put you to effective use in His Kingdom.  All that is required of you is to get up and follow wherever He leads. If you are willing, you will experience the amazing riches of His grace.

© Jim Musser 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Reality of Your Life

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence?  Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. 
 With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.  Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:1-8 NIV)

Within the church there is a culture of pretension.  We want to give the appearance that we are dedicated to the Lord and we know the “Christian” things to say, but often the reality is much different.  I have had countless students in my ministry over the years tell me how much they want to grow in the Lord and how they are trusting Him for their futures, but then a guy or a girl comes along and, suddenly, their trust is placed in someone else.  I have known people who said they are trusting God for their finances, but they’re wringing their hands each day they go to work.  And I’ve known individuals that have melted under the heat of persecution.  Appearances don’t matter much when reality hits.

David’s use of the word “truly” is important in this passage.  He is not offering up mere spiritual platitudes.  He is declaring that his soul DOES find rest in God, that God indeed IS his rock and salvation.  And the proof is not in his words, but in his life when reality strikes.  Men are seeking to topple him from his throne.  He finds himself in a time of crisis when words don’t matter much, but instead in how we respond. And in this crisis, he remains true to his words.

While a seminary student, I gave the pretense of one seeking after the Lord and trusting in him, but a break-up with my girlfriend revealed something quite different.  In reality, I was an idolater who worshipped this woman much more than I did the Lord.  It was a humbling admission, but a much needed one.  And while on this narrow path, there have been other humbling times where my words haven’t quite matched the attitude of my heart, and that was revealed by the reality of life.  Thankfully, we serve a God rich in mercy and grace.  

Today, consider how you present your faith to others.  Is it consistent with the way you actually live your life?  One way or another the truth will be revealed when reality strikes.  The question is, will you be vindicated or humbled?

© Jim Musser 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Getting Rich

“This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.  They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
 Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.  Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper—they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.” (Psalm 49:13-20 NIV)

I recall watching a documentary series a few years ago called, “The Men Who Built America.”  It chronicled the rise and influence of J.D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford.  Their wealth at the time was beyond compare.  All five men were depicted as inventive, but ruthless and greedy as well.  They pursued wealth for the wealth itself.  They could never have enough.

Watching several of these episodes reminded me of how little the heart of men and women change from generation to generation.  The desire for wealth is just as strong today as it was a hundred years ago and even 2500 years ago.  Most of us dream of “striking it rich” even if we think it unlikely.  We observe the rich from afar and many of us are envious.  Like those before us, we think life would be much better if we were wealthy.  

But wealth is a double-edged sword and most of us look at only the one side—all the benefits of wealth.  The other side, however, demands our attention.  Jesus called wealth a master and that we could not serve it and God at the same time (Matthew 6:24).  Paul tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (I Timothy 6:10) and is a disqualifier for spiritual leadership (I Timothy 3:2-3).  And the Psalmist tells us that no wealth (or the benefits from it) gained in this life will follow us into the next.  In fact, he warns that those who embrace wealth as their security are no better than the cattle that perish every day to become the burgers and steaks on our plates.  

Our culture promotes wealth as the panacea for all our difficulties and as the path to happiness, and so many pursue it or at least dream about it.  But the Scriptures warn of the dangers of this path and we would all be wise to listen.

Today, recognize that while the culture promotes acquiring wealth as the ideal for life, the Scriptures tell a very different story.  If your dream is to get rich, make sure it is of the eternal kind; for those are the only riches that will last and that you will be taking with you.

© Jim Musser 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Developing Spiritual Habits

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9: 24-27 NIV)

I think I was 12-years-old.  It was early summer, just after school was over for the year. I made the monumental decision that I was going to be a professional basketball player.  That summer was going to be the beginning of my training. Every morning I planned to rise early and head out onto my parents’ driveway where our basketball goal awaited and I was going to work on improving my skills.  The first day went exactly as I had planned. I was up early and I put myself through a demanding workout.  It was the only day that did. My dreams didn’t include the amount of work it would take to reach them.  I had big plans, but my dream was well ahead of my willingness and ability to be disciplined. My plan for the summer didn’t even last two days!

I was never very disciplined as a child or a teenager, and it has been an on and off struggle as an adult as well. But one thing that has worked well for me is just establishing a routine over a short period of time and, if I can manage to do that, a habit can be formed that will be long lasting.  For example, 20 years ago, I broke the tibia in my left leg that resulted in the gradual decline of my already damaged left knee. A physical therapist advised me that I needed to start doing exercises to compensate for its worsening condition.  Over a few months, I got into the habit of working out three times a week at her facility. That turned into a habit that is now 20 years running.  Another habit that formed around that time is this devotional. It began in the early days of the Internet as an email devotion during the school year. Twenty years later, I am still writing. Finally, and I don’t remember when I started this, for many years I have been reading through the Bible at breakfast.  I start in Genesis and work my way to the end of Revelation and then start all over again.  I don’t even know how long it takes; I just do it.  But I know that habit has taken me through the Bible dozens of times.

As I thought about this the other day, what I realized was I didn’t start out on any of these habits with any grand expectations.  I did not plan to develop an exercise habit of more than 20 years. I didn’t expect to still be writing these devotions after two decades. In fact, I’m not sure I planned it to go for more than a few months. And I didn’t start my practice of Bible reading at breakfast seeing it as my way of reading the whole Bible.  I just started. And even after I got started, I was far from perfect in keeping these disciplines.

One of the quickest killers of habits before they start is beginning with grandiose plans. I’m going to get up at 6:30 every morning and go for a two-mile run. I’m going to journal every day. I’m going to start reading my Bible and/or praying for an hour daily. And like my plans to begin training for a professional basketball career, we fail miserably because we have never even taken the small steps required to develop a habit. We have rarely ever ran; never consistently journaled, and never read the Scriptures or prayed for longer than a few minutes.  By making our goals so lofty, we sabotage any hopes of developing an enduring habit because when we fail the first time, we tend to give up. This is the reason so many would-be dieters, exercisers, etc. fail in their attempts. What we need to understand about discipline and developing habits is the start is usually very modest.  It is just a thing we start to do because we want to.  There are few expectations and no lofty plans.  And when we mess up, it is not that big of a deal.  We just start again.

The race of the Christian life of which Paul speaks is a life-long one. It is not a sprint where if you make one mistake you are out of the running.  It is a marathon where time is on your side and mistakes are less costly. So the pressure is not great. One just needs to begin running it, putting one foot in front of the other. That’s it.  And if that is done, fairly soon, we will develop a stride that will take us to the finish. It won’t be a perfect start; it doesn’t have to be.  The habits of the Christian life can be formed just by starting out attempting to do some of the things that are needed to complete the long journey—reading, praying, practicing obedience in small ways. As we do these things, not only do we do better at them, but they also begin to become ingrained as habits in our lives.

Today, if you are struggling with developing spiritual habits in your life, the time to begin is now. Whether it is reading the Scriptures, praying, etc., just start doing it in a small way without great expectations, but with determination to continue one more day. Then days can turn into weeks, which can turn into months, and then even years.  You won’t be perfect in your attempts or necessarily in your consistency, but you don’t have to be.  Habits never begin with perfection, nor are they always kept perfectly.  They begin with the determination to start and keep going even when you fail.

© Jim Musser 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Taste of Eternity

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)

When you think of eternal life, what do you usually think of?  I am guessing you think of Heaven, a far off place at which you will arrive upon your death. 

We tend to equate eternal life and Heaven, but actually they are different, while, at the same time, being inexorably linked.  Jesus says that eternal life begins when we come to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ.”  Hmmm.  So, according to the Lord, our eternal journey begins in this life at the time we come to know Him.  In other words, we enter the outer borders of Eternity and, as C.S. Lewis phrased it in his Narnia books, we move “further up and further in” during our lifetimes.  Another way to look at it is once we have submitted our lives to Jesus, we are assured we will avoid death, not the physical kind, but the eternal one

By now, you may be asking why is this important? Well, if Eternity is not as far off as we once thought, that we are actually on the outskirts of it, then, instead of thinking we’ll find out what it is like when we get there, we can actually begin to get a taste of it during this life.  Perhaps you can even recall a moment, several, or even many, when you felt as if you were experiencing life as it was originally meant to be experienced. Perhaps it was an overwhelming sense of peace or joy, a time when you had fellowship with other believers that truly centered on the Lord, or when you could literally feel the presence of the Lord. These are tastes of Eternity. And we can experience them because we have entered Eternity if Jesus is our Lord.

What often holds us back from these experiences is we are not looking for them or seeking them. We think they come only after we die, but that is contrary to what Jesus says.  He says that He can give us life to the full. And that life and fullness does not begin once we physically die, but at the moment we surrender our lives to Him.

Today, do not think of Eternity as beginning some time in the distant future.  Rather, understand that it began for you the moment you decided to turn your life over to Jesus and follow Him.  You can get tastes of Eternity in this life because you have already arrived there. You are on the outskirts, but in Eternity nonetheless.  So seek to go further up and further in during your life. If you do, most assuredly you will experience tastes of Eternity, which will make you long for Heaven even more.

© Jim Musser 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Looking Out for the Interests of Others

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

It happens on a weekly basis, at the very least, but often much more frequently. My wife will ask me to do something—put away the laundry, help to clean the house, run an errand—and my first thought is about whether I really want to do that. I don’t plan it; it’s just an instinctive response. Like all of us, I just naturally think of myself first.

In a selfie, me-first world, the cultural current is so strong, so dominating, that what Paul is addressing here is often not even on the radar of believers. Our normal is to focus on us and put ourselves always at the front of the line in our daily priorities. Even many of our apparent other-centered activities such as volunteering, going on mission trips, giving financial support, can be rooted in self-centeredness. Doing such things can give us experiences to talk about and share photos on social media, make us feel good about ourselves, can look good on a resumé, or assuage guilt over not being good enough for the Lord.  Even in our most other-focused moments, it is quite easy to have selfish motives.

So what are we to do to be more selfless, more other-focused, when our natures and the culture is bent far over in the opposite direction? Paul gives us a clue here—humility.  He goes on to say after the above passage that our attitude should be that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to grasp, but instead humbled Himself.  The only cure for selfishness is humility.

We tend to live life with an entitlement mentality—we should be able to do what is best for us because we’re the most important.  To become humble is to recognize we are not the center of the universe, that everything does not revolve around us, our needs and wants. Rather, it is the Lord who, as Creator of all things, is by default the Center of all things.  And Jesus serves as an example that even God was willing to humble and put others before Himself. So we are without excuse.

But we keep making them. We’re too busy, too tired, will get to it later, or we were totally unaware, as was the excuse of the goats in Matthew 25. The only way out of this is through self-reflection, humility, and repentance. Self-reflection is necessary to see the need for humility, and genuine humility leads us to change from swimming with the natural currents of our natures and our world to reversing and swimming against them.  

Today, recognize that looking out for other people’s interests rather than our own is not natural and therefore will not be easy.  But it is the command of the Lord and we cannot just ignore it.  So reflect on your life and attitudes.  Is it rife with selfishness?  Then come before the Lord in humility, asking forgiveness, and for discernment and strength to live for the interests of others, particularly for those of the Lord Himself. 

© Jim Musser 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Building on the Bedrock

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

No matter where you turn, there always seems to be trouble. Every day headlines on newsfeeds blare out the terrible things that are happening at home and abroad. There is so much trouble, in fact, that many just seek to ignore and avoid the news. Instead, they turn their attention to funny or heartwarming videos, uplifting stories, and the like.  

But one can only avoid trouble for so long before, as Jesus promised, it comes knocking at your door. Grief, sickness, rejection, injustice, disappointment are just a few of the troubles that we likely will face along our journey in life.  It is difficult to prepare for the moment of trouble because likely we won’t see it coming.  It just suddenly appears on our doorstep—the death of a loved one, the rejection by someone important to us, the evaporation of a long-held dream.  However, we can prepare ourselves for the fallout that always comes from the trouble.  

I once saw a counselor to deal with some personal issues and during one of our sessions, he pointed out the foundation of a house is solely dependent upon that which it is setting. The foundation, he said, could be excellent, but if what is underneath it is anything less than bedrock, it is in danger of crumbling.  The foundations of structures which are built on bedrock will survive even if what is built upon it is destroyed.  What the counselor was saying to me is that though my life had suffered damage, the fact that Jesus was my bedrock was the reason I could have hope of rebuilding, of bouncing back.

The danger of experiencing trouble exists when we build our lives on other things than the bedrock of Jesus.  It is why some people leave the faith or remain in a life-long depressive state after trouble strikes.  Their lives were built on something else.  Jesus was a part of the structure rather than the bedrock.  I have often seen this with students who love being a part of campus ministry, love the friends and the fellowship they have. When the “trouble” of loneliness and isolation hits after they graduate and move to a new town or city where they know no one and everything is new, their faith begins to crumble. The problem is they had built their faith on something other than Jesus.  Campus ministries are great; friends are great; but they cannot sustain a life that is beset by troubles.  Only Jesus can do that.

Today, know the best way to plan for the eventual troubles you will face, or to deal with the troubles you are now facing, is to make Jesus your bedrock.  Build your life upon Him and Him only.  Nothing is more solid and stable than the Rock of our salvation and strength. (Psalm 18:2

© Jim Musser 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let Him Have It!

“You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.  Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.  I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.  In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.  

But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us. You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations.  You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.” (Psalm 44:4-12 NIV)

I don’t remember how old I was, perhaps around nine or ten.  I think it was at Christmas, but I am really not sure.  All I remember for certain is what I said to my dad: “I hate you!”  What caused such vitriol?  That, too, is lost in my memory.  All I know is I said it.  To this day, it makes me shudder.

My dad was far from a perfect father.  In fact, orphaned as a young child, he grew up without learning basic parenting skills.  Through adult eyes I see how handicapped he was by an unbelievably difficult childhood.  Yet, he still loved me and I knew that.  Perhaps that is why, in my child’s mind, I knew I could express the anger that had built up within me without fear he would beat me or reject me.  

One of things I love most about the Psalms is the emotional honesty contained within them.  The writers hold nothing back.  They are effusive in their praise of God, while also being brutally honest in expressing their frustrations with life, their enemies, and with the Lord Himself.  In this particular Psalm, the writer is in utter dismay over the Lord’s (perceived) abandonment of His people, even though they have remained faithful to Him.  And he lets Him have it.  He tells the Lord, in so many words, “you sold us out, and on the cheap at that!”  

Imagine saying that to the Lord of the universe.  It is enough to make you shudder.  Yet, you see this time and again in the Psalms and throughout Scripture—men angry with God and showing no fear in expressing it.  Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is useful for teaching (II Timothy 3:16-17), so what are we to learn from this?

I think it is the same thing I knew about my father, that he loved me enough to take my anger without rejecting me.  Many times we hold things in because we are afraid of what might happen, but God loves us and will not reject us just because we are angry with Him.  The writers of the Psalms, in particular, demonstrate that for us.  We would be wise to follow their example.  Anger has a corrosive effect on our spirits when we hold it in.   The Enemy knows that and often whispers the lie, “You can’t say THAT to God!”  Indeed you can because God loves you and is big enough to take it.

Today, are you harboring anger toward God?  Then get it out.  Let Him have it!  It will do your spirit good and you will experience just how much God loves you.

© Jim Musser 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Maintaining Facades

“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:24-25 NIV)

By and large, most social media profiles paint a positive picture of the owner. Look at most posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and they usually portray someone who has a happy life and is on top of things. There is excitement, fun, and good things happening. The picture painted is one of a contented and joyful life.  Perhaps this is why research studies increasingly show excessive times on social media can cause depression http://cultureandyouth.org/social-media/research-social-media/social-media-and-depression/ People tend to buy what people are selling on their social media platforms and then see how far short their own lives fall in comparison to others.  

The truth is no one has a perfectly happy and contented life. It is a myth, but one we have tended to perpetuate down through the ages. Before social media made it so easy, people have constantly attempted to make their lives seem better than they are, and, like today, other people tended to believe it.  Our default mode is one that assumes our life circumstances, faults, and sins are worst than most; thus, it leads us away from authenticity to creating an outside persona that seeks to obscure the true reality of our lives. Routinely, celebrities and politicians are exposed as being nothing like that of their public personas, but the fact is we all hide things from public view, whether the state of our social lives, marriages, or our private behavior.  We create an outside that is meant to obscure the reality of the inside.

This becomes a major spiritual problem because the Lord wants to make us whole on the inside, but we hamper His work when we are so focused on maintaining the façade of our lives. This was his main criticism with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They sought to look good and righteous on the outside to the people around them, while totally ignoring the major issues they had inside of them, such as self-righteousness, greed, etc. It frustrated Jesus so much that He could not help them, that He let loose on them.
Jesus didn’t hate the religious leaders; He loved them.  But their refusal to acknowledge the true condition of their lives and instead to double down on maintaining their façades, drove Him to speak the blatant truth. He knew what was inside of them.

He also knows what is inside each of us. We may fool others, but we can never fool Him. And we shouldn’t want to. He is the One who loves us despite the depth of our sin. But our nature, handed down by Adam and Eve is one that seeks to hide and obscure the truth about ourselves. By doing so, we deprive ourselves of the much needed love and acceptance for which we long, and exchange it for something far less and for which we receive no true contentment.

Today, consider how your outside compares to the reality of what’s inside of you. What are you hiding?  Whatever it is, know the Lord sees it clearly and yet still loves you.  He wants to deal with it, but first you need to let Him by dismantling the façade you have worked hard to maintain.  Then the joy and contentment that has eluded you will be within your grasp. 

© Jim Musser 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Finding a Lonely Place

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16 NIV)

My wife, in particular, and I had been through a very tough week heading into Fall Break with the death of her mother 9000 miles away in South Africa. As it is for anyone experiencing grief, life still goes on for the people around you. The world does not stop just because yours has. This does not imply people are unsympathetic or callous to your loss; it’s just not their loss. And they have their own lives to live, needs to be met and responsibilities to fulfill.  The clamorous noise of life is still resounding for them and, as Jesus exhibited, the best way to deal with this fact is to withdraw from it. So we went to the beach, to the noise of the ocean waves and sea gulls, and the rhythms of the tides to rest and pray.

With so many needs and limited time, it is a fair question to ask why Jesus withdrew from the people to “lonely places”? Why not gut it out and continue to sacrifice for others? In the Western, and particularly the American, culture, we are practically obsessed with activity and success, and most Christians are no exception.  Pastors are evaluated and evaluate themselves on the basis of numbers and busyness. I recently talked with one colleague who said he hadn’t had a real vacation in more than seven years. And even if he had, the typical American vacation is more exhausting rather than restful; thus the popular statement, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!”

As with everything in life as a follower of Jesus, we need to observe and imitate what He did as far as it is possible for fallen human beings to do. And one of the things He repeatedly did was withdraw from the hubbub of life in order to be refreshed by spending time with the Father without all the competing distractions, including legitimate ones such as people in need of healing, food, and comfort. For Him, the legitimacy of the needs was not the issue; rather it was the necessity of spending time with the Father for His own well-being. If it was true for Jesus, then most certainly it has to be true for us.

As I write, I recognize I am one of the worst at this. I like staying busy; I like my time occupied by tasks to accomplish and people with whom to meet. Withdrawing to be alone with the Lord has always been a challenge. But I need it and so do you, and not just when traumatic things occur in our lives. We need it on a regular basis, as a part of the rhythm of our lives.  We need to withdraw from school, work, social media, and the needs of our friends and others to be replenished by our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus did. 

I can confidently say our trip to the beach was exactly what we needed. And it reminded me of how important it is to find a “lonely place” regularly to spend time in reflection and prayer. It may be a hiking trail, a park, or even the quiet corner of a bedroom where we are undisturbed by the noise of normal life and able to talk and listen to the Father.

Today, ask the Lord to help you find a lonely place where you can go and spend time with Him.  It is what Jesus did. Isn’t it wise to follow His example?

© Jim Musser 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It Doesn't Matter What You Believe

(Author's Note: Fall Break arrives tomorrow so I will be taking a break as well.  WftW will return on Monday, October 16th.  Jim)

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:5-6 NIV)

I heard on the radio recently a writer discussing the religious view of a politician with whom she vehemently disagreed.  The man had said he believed a pregnancy resulting from rape shouldn’t be terminated because God had allowed that new life to form.  She said, “I just can’t believe in a God who would allow such things to happen.”  

She is not alone.  There are a lot of people who, because of one thing or another, refuse to believe in a God that does not suit them.  Typically, it involves some sort of suffering or tragedy.  They refuse to believe in a God who would allow a child to die, a violent storm to wreak havoc, or a loved one to contract cancer.  Or it may be the restrictions to living how they wish, such as couples living together, engaging in homosexual relationships, or just wanting to live lives however they choose.  They refuse to believe in a God who would dare restrict their freedom.

Their refusal to believe leads them down one of two paths—they either become atheists or they construct a God they can believe in.  They imagine Him as they want Him to be.  It may be a God that loves everyone and doesn’t care that much about how they live their lives.  Or a God who set creation in motion, but doesn’t involve Himself in the day-to-day details.  

But the reality is, it doesn’t matter what they believe, or what I believe. The beliefs of human beings don’t have any sway over who God is. Just because an atheist doesn’t believe God exists, that unbelief has no impact on the truth of His existence.  Or if I choose to make certain attributions to God, that doesn’t necessarily make it so.  The truth is it doesn’t matter what you or I believe about God.  We do not determine who He is.  He is God and He defines Himself.  We can learn about Him through what He has created (Romans 1:20) and through the Scriptures (John 5:39-40), but we are not the determiners of who He is.  We can choose to accept Him or reject Him, but we can’t wish Him out of existence or recreate Him into a more acceptable God.  He is God and there is no other.

Today, recognize God is who He is, and your beliefs about Him have no effect on His existence or His nature.  What really matters is that you get to know Him as He is and submit to His will for your life.

©  Jim Musser 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finding Protection from the Elements

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8 NIV)

My wife and I love garden-grown tomatoes. We learned several years ago that cherry tomatoes do much better in our cooler, wetter mountain climate than do the larger varieties. This year, one potted plant was producing delicious fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruit!) and almost daily we were in heaven enjoying our little harvest. Then, in early September, a cold snap was predicted.  Temperatures were to dip into the upper 30’s, which would likely weaken the plant and end it’s ability to produce more fruit. Yet, the plant was full of little green tomatoes and we wanted badly for them to ripen. 

So we devised a plan: Every evening we would put the plant in the garage to protect it from the cold and then put it outside again the next day as it warmed up.  We have been doing that for several weeks now and it has worked brilliantly!  That plant doesn’t look too good with its yellowish and brownish leaves, but almost every day, we are able to pick a handful of luscious red tomatoes.

What we have done with that plant is to nurture it in the midst of the elements. We have given it the best opportunity to produce fruit by protecting it and giving it the best environment in which to continue to flourish.  In essence, Jesus describes the same thing for us in nurturing our spiritual lives.  

The world can be a harsh, cold place, where the elements (stress and worry, distractions, temptations, and bad influences) can threaten to lessen or even destroy our ability to produce fruit. Thus, as were my wife and I with our tomato plant, we have to be proactive to protect our lives from the threatening elements and intentional about creating the optimal environment for us to continue to thrive.

The Lord said that environment consists of being very close to Him. As long as we are maintaining a connection to Him, we are safe and will be productive. What we cannot do is to assume we are impervious to the spiritual elements that seek to steal, kill, and destroy our fruit and our very lives. (John 10:10) We must seek protection from them and put ourselves in the most ideal environment in which to grow. And that is being close to Him—in prayer, in His Word, and in authentic fellowship with other believers. It is in this setting that we will be nurtured and where we can continue to grow and produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). 

Today, consider what kind of environment you are placing yourself in. Is it the type that will protect you from the destructive elements and will nurture your growth?  If not, then perhaps it’s time to be proactive and make a plan to protect yourself and find a much safer, more nurturing place—close to the Lord.

© Jim Musser 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Little Things

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:19-23 NIV)

Yesterday, my wife and I spent much of the day sharing memories about her mom. Her funeral was in the morning and it was our way to be present without being there.  One of the most meaningful and enjoyable things we did was to read some of the letters she wrote to my wife while she served as a missionary in various parts of the world. It was easy to imagine her sitting at her dining table with pen in hand updating Marianna on the latest news from home. And, in the midst of the translation (from Afrikaans to English), I could hear her voice. She was a faithful letter writer, a small thing when you think about it, but such a wonderful and meaningful thing now that she has left this world.

If a celebrity or someone very accomplished dies, the world always points to the person’s achievements, whether it be awards won, money made, or his or her impact on the world at large. The emphasis is on the big things they did. But I can guarantee you that is not the focus of those who knew them best.  Oscars, Nobels, inventions that changed in some way how we live are not the things family and friends remember or appreciate the most.  Rather than the big things that catch the eye of the public, it is the little things that mean the most to those closest to the deceased—the short letters or notes written, the small acts of kindness, the shared experiences that don’t seem that big at the time. 

Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on aiming to do big things, to change the world in some way. It reminds me of someone whose goal is to have a book published without understanding the fact a book is made up of many words, which form paragraphs, which, in turn, form the chapters that make a book.  It can only be written if one writes using individual words in sentences, and it will be determined to be great only if the use of the individual words exhibits great skill. To write a great book, you have to be excellent with using the individual words.  In the same way, it is the compilation of very small things over a lifetime that makes a life. What one does in the minutes and hours of daily life contributes more to greatness than some one-off achievement.  Those are the things the people closest to us will remember and the ones on which the Lord places the most emphasis.  

My mother-in-law, by the world’s standards, didn’t achieve much in her lifetime.  She wasn’t famous; she didn’t change the world. But she was faithful in the life she was given. She was faithful to her husband of over 50 years; she raised and loved six children; she loved the Lord; and she faithfully sent cards and wrote letters. Her life was rich and meaningful because of the little things in which she was so faithful.  Now I believe she is receiving the reward of much greater things.

Today, realize the sum total of your life is not determined by a few big accomplishments; rather it is by the little things you do over the course of your lifetime. It is the faithfulness in the small things that one day will lead to much greater things.

© Jim Musser 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017


“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15 NIV)

Sorry for your loss. It is used so much in social media feeds to respond to someone in grief that it has become almost passé. It is meant to convey sympathy, but to me it has always sounded a bit shallow; a convenient all-in-one phrase that doesn’t truly bring much comfort, but gives us comfort to say it. We may not know what to say—sorry for your loss. We may be afraid of saying too much, but do not want to remain silent—sorry for your loss.  We may feel we just don’t have the time to invest to comfort someone—sorry for your loss.

This may offend you because the phrase is so ubiquitous, you have probably used it.  I don’t think I ever have, but I am guilty of typing out a quick 1-2 sentence response on a Facebook newsfeed and thinking I have brought comfort.  So I am writing this morning not as one looking down my nose at those who express their sympathy in tweets and four-word phrases, but with the realization the age of social media has made most of us oblivious to how we truly mourn with those who mourn.

This all came to mind yesterday when my wife and I were discussing whether or not to post something about the death of her mother. She was reluctant because she really didn’t want to read “sorry for your loss” dozens of times. I responded that is probably what she should expect if we post it.  Her response was clear and on target: “Whatever happened to mourn with those who mourn?”

The problem we have in a social media age is we are accustomed to having everything quick and easy. Someone has a birthday, post a few celebratory words.  Someone graduates, do the same.  There is no cost and only a moment’s investment.  To be clear, we mean well and have the best intentions, as I have when I’ve done the same, but in the midst of the technological maelstrom we find ourselves, I think we believers have been blinded. 

To truly mourn with someone (or rejoice), we have to invest our time and ourselves. Sure, it is nice to get a lot of comments and there might be some comfort in them, but for most of us, we need more personal investment, particularly from the ones we know well.  We need a voice, a touch, a listening ear. We need presence.

I remember days after my father had died and I was back at college, I longed for my friends to inquire about how I was doing. I needed their presence to help me in my time of grief. It was the same when my mother died and when my first wife wanted a divorce. 

The problem is what we need is no longer in fashion. Neighbors often never speak to one another. We don’t drop by other’s homes. We don’t call. Instead, we meet in neutral places; we text, send a tweet or post on Facebook or Snapchat.  So when a person is in mourning, what happens? Hardly anyone visits or calls, or sends personal cards or letters. Rather, the person is inundated with short electronic messages and four-word phrases. And the result is often isolation and loneliness, of which no one is aware because they think there is plenty of comfort already being given. 

The bent of our culture is to want to stay in our comfort zones, safe in front of our screens, inside our living spaces, or keeping to our schedules. But mourning along side others cannot be accomplished that way.  Presence is required. There is no substitute. 

Today, if you know someone who is grieving a loss, figure out how you can be present for them, to mourn with them.  It may be dropping by for a visit, a phone call, sending or giving a card or a gift that would be meaningful. There are a myriad of ways to mourn with someone. Our duty as Christians is to figure out how to do it well, rather than what is the most comfortable or convenient for us.  

© Jim Musser 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Our Unimaginable Selves

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV)

It happened early in the summer during my recovery from heart surgery. I was reclining on the couch, thinking about our ministry to students. One of them came to mind in a vivid, almost vision-like, way. She was standing in front of a group of young women speaking to them. That was it; but it was so vivid and so surprising that I am convinced it was from the Lord.  I thought and prayed about it for several months, unsure whether I should keep it to myself or share it with the student.  In the past several weeks, I had felt an increasing sense the time was approaching.  This week, at our large group meeting, she sat close to me, so I knew the time had come. Immediately after the meeting ended, I approached her and told her what I had envisioned. She was taken aback and unsure how to comprehend it, but thanked me for telling her.

Something I say fairly regularly to students is that the Lord wants us to become the men and women He created us to be. His original intent for us has been marred by sin, so He wants to re-create us. Like Michelangelo as he contemplated the block of marble in front of him that would eventually become David, God sees something the normal eye does not see. The great artist saw within the block of marble something beautiful, beyond the imagination or conception of others. In the same way, the Lord sees us in the midst of our encasement, our beauty and value hidden by the hardness and opacity of sin. But inside our “tomb,” we cannot see it; the darkness is overwhelming and often complete.

I believe that is the case with this student. She has struggled and fallen many times. She is unable to see who she really is. What she is surrounded by seems impossible to penetrate or to escape. She is stuck.  

This is exactly what Satan wants, for us to feel hopeless and powerless. He wants us to give up and just accept our predicament as unchangeable.  Look around and you will find many living just like this—they’re not good enough, have made too many wrong decisions in life, and are beyond saving. So they just muddle on through life until it’s over. Perhaps you feel this way or know others who do. 

What the Lord wants us all to know is sin doesn’t have to have its way with us. The Great Artist has both the desire and ability to recreate us. He can apply his skill and eye for beauty to chip away at what bounds us to eventually reveal who we truly are.  But it takes time, just as it took Michelangelo more than two years to bring his David out of that marble slab. But those who commissioned him had the confidence he could do it well before the statue began to take shape.  

Today, know the Lord is at work on freeing you. Be confident in His ability and be willing to allow Him to chip away. Like the student with whom I shared, He has a vision of who you truly are and what you can become. He can make you into the person He created you to be even if now you can’t even imagine it.  

© Jim Musser 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Living with Both Hope and Humility

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.” (Luke 5:8-10 NIV)

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (I Timothy 1:16 NIV)

These two passages reflect a fine line of how we are to view ourselves. Upon being in the presence of the Divine, Peter knew he was totally unworthy, recognizing how far short he came to the glory of God.  This was before he experienced His grace and he was scared and wanted nothing to do with Jesus.  

Paul also had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and was rattled by His presence, knowing what a rebel he truly was. Yet he, too, experienced the mercy and grace of Jesus and, like Peter, was invited to join the Lord in His ministry to the lost on earth.  

What draws all of us to Jesus is the combined knowledge of our own sinfulness and His grace and mercy in spite of it.  Yet, it is a temptation to forget the sheer depth of our sinfulness once we cross over into grace.  It is easy to become prideful and look down on others who have yet to experience the freedom and forgiveness Jesus offers.  Thus, the judgment and condemnation of people and lifestyles that so often comes out of churches.  Or to go into the opposite direction and, because of the grace and mercy of our Savior, gloss over how offensive sin is to God as if it is not that big of an issue.  

The image of Peter’s fear in the presence of the Lord is a good reminder of how serious and deep our sin is.  Yet, Paul’s declaration that he, the “worst of sinners,” is an example of the depth of God’s mercy, is a proper counterbalance to the reality of our sin.  We need not despair, but we can never forget our need for mercy.  Thus, we can live lives with both hope and humility.

Today, never forget the depth of your sin and your desperate need for the Savior.  Yet, never forget how much He loves you and wants you to be a part of His redemptive work in the world.  Both are necessary in living a life following Jesus.

© Jim Musser 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Going High

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.  Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1-9 NIV)

Like millions of others five years ago, I was glued to my computer screen watching Felix Baumgartner’s jump from 24 miles above the earth.  A giant helium balloon had carried his tiny capsule to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere where, in a pressurized suit, he would climb onto a platform and jump back toward earth.  For one, who as a kid once dreamed of becoming an astronaut and watched the first moon landing, this took me back to those exciting days of space exploration.  

As Baumgartner climbed onto the platform of his capsule and prepared to jump, he said, “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.”  And then he was gone, disappearing rapidly back into the wide expanse of the earth, a tiny dot on a giant canvas.  

There is something about going high that puts one’s life into perspective.  I remember the astronauts of Apollo 8 reading Genesis 1 as they orbited the moon and looked back at the blue planet hanging in space.  They and many around the world realized in that moment how small we really are compared to God and the universe He created.  I have that same feeling when flying at 36,000 feet and looking out on the earth below.

David writes, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers…who is mankind that you are mindful of them…?”  In pondering the immense creation around him, David realized, in spite of the power and position he held, how small he truly was.  By going high in his mind, he gained a proper perspective.

A former astronaut who watched Baumgartner’s jump said the high perspective one gets from space helps you to realize the world doesn’t revolve around you.  Perhaps we all need to have that experience!

Today, though you may not be able to reach the height of space, look up and around to gain a higher perspective.  See how truly small you are compared to God.  Life, as Felix Baumgartner realized 24 miles above the earth, is not about us.  We are so small.  No, it is about Him who is so great and so majestic, and who from His lofty perch, looks down upon you and me with love and mercy. 

© Jim Musser 2017 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Telling Stories of God's Grace & Mercy

“When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:34-39 NIV)

The technician doing my echocardiogram (a sonogram of the heart) last week said, as she was reading my chart notes, she wondered how I was able to come to the hospital on my own. Until she came to the part which revealed my aortic valve replacement surgery last spring. The condition of my heart six months ago, as revealed by the last echocardiogram, was so poor that she concluded I was unable to do much physically. When I told her that I had exercised regularly and had hiked up Grandfather Mountain, among the highest peaks in North Carolina, she literally gasped. She couldn’t believe I was able to such things with the very poor heart function I had.

I found out how bad it was last spring and, since, I have reminded myself, and been reminded, just how much grace the Lord showed me. There were literally dozens, if not hundreds, of times when I unknowingly put myself in grave danger, such as hiking up Grandfather Mountain. My valve could have, and perhaps should have, failed due to the exercise regimen I kept. Yet, that pre-surgery exercise was what helped me recover so quickly and so well because I was in great physical condition as I began my rehab. 

Like Jesus commanded the man delivered from demon possession, I told the technician this, and have told many others, to let them know how much the Lord has done for me.  A lot of people like to give me credit, because of my hard work and dedication, but the reality is I was close to dying and my commitment to exercise increased that likelihood. But the Lord spared me and took the very thing that should have exacerbated my condition and turned it into an asset for my recovery. Even as I type this, I feel “blown away” by the reality of what He has done for me.  It has not grown stale from repetition, but still carries the same emotional and spiritual weight it did from the beginning.  

I also have plenty of other stories to tell regarding the things God has done for me. And I tell them because it glorifies Him to do so. It is a way to put a practical face on the grace and mercy of God for people who are skeptical about how much the Lord really loves or cares.  What about you? How has the Lord shown you grace and mercy in your life? Are you telling anybody? 

Today, know the Lord wants you to tell those stories.  It is a way to show your appreciation to Him, as well as revealing to others just how awesome He is.

© Jim Musser 2017