Rubber Bands

My basketball coach stretched a single rubber band until it broke, then two, then three. When he got to four and five, he could no longer break them. He handed a rubber band to each of us to wear as a team. The old school coach’s adage demonstrated that an individual could easily fail, but together, it was harder to break. Some players still wear ordinary rubber bands while many have opted for bands with imprinted messages, but the premise is the same, there is strength in numbers.

A recent conversation with a friend brought to light some deep-seated scars she hid well. Making contact brought up painful memories of the past, ancient demons that gripped her heartstrings and haunted her sleep. Jesus’ disciples faced similar demons yet could not drive them out.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly, I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-20 NIV

I certainly do not have the faith of those who physically walked with Jesus and I feared my “command of expulsion” would result in the demons’ laughter at my feeble attempts. My lack of faith weighed heavily and I retreated. The thought of asking for help with prayer relying on the faith of others would only reveal my weakness. Yet Jesus said, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed … Nothing will be impossible for you.”

A dear friend and spiritual mentor said we all struggle with doubt especially when we stand against Goliaths alone. Relying on the faith of others benefits us more than we suppose.

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20 – NIV

The faith and action of the friends carried the crippled man to the feet of Jesus and he was healed because of THEIR faith. Asking others to pray does not negate my prayers but adds to them and the need to lean on others increases my faith, not in just my beliefs but knowing God surrounds me with those that can make me stronger.

A point guard cannot succeed without a strong center to rebound in case of a miss and a post needs a shooting guard to pass to when the lane is too crowded to be effective.  All members of a team moving in the same direction with a common goal. Each rubber band is strong in its own right yet still fallible; however, together they are unbreakable.

Lord, help me seek out the “rubber bands” in my life, that together we may be a stronger tool for Your use, that Your will be done and that You may be Glorified.

Amen ….

 

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Detours?

Journey to Northwest Washington State; passions as desolate as this West Texas road. Miles and miles of cotton fields, mesquite trees, tumbleweeds and oil derricks. Hypnotized by passing white lines, my mind drifted into autopilot. Suddenly it was apparent I had taken a wrong turn (not a “wrong toin at Albikoiky” but not far off). I knew where I was going or so I thought. A metaphor of my life as of late.

My electronic “driving companion” redirected down a two lane county road past farms and fields, blacktop and red dirt. Arriving at a crossroads, a sign read Redeemed Sinners – Saved by Grace. Welch Texas, population 222, screamed my name when I was lost in the middle of nowhere. Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors.

Returning to the highway, I no longer dreaded the 1,800 miles ahead, but embraced the mile ahead in my vision (or 100 miles in New Mexico). The Southwestern plains were smoothed by the palms of God, the badlands formed by His hands as if dancing across piano keys and the majestic sculptures of Utah show the tracing of His fingertips. The grandeur was overwhelming as I tried to embrace every inch that passed my way. Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, each a magnificent canvas within themselves.

Entering through the mountains of southern Washington, I stopped to refuel in Kennewick. Passing a beautiful restaurant built of barn-wood and stone with a magnificent stained glass church window, there appeared a flagpole supported by steel beams. The sculpture was actual steel recovered from the World Trade Center Towers, a monument dedicated to those who perished and those who survived. As I approached, a feeling of reverence encompassed the circular benches and garden beyond, a silence in the midst of traffic passing the rusted, fire-torn steel, unnoticed to most. A touch of a melted edge echoed in my soul that there is a bigger world out there and struggles much greater than my own.

Perhaps these detours were not as “unplanned” as I thought.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 – NIV

Ask, seek and knock.

Lord, when I am so focused on the path ahead that I fail to see, please open my eyes to the beauty of Your creation, the gentle leading of Your Mighty Hands and the blessings of Your immeasurable Grace.

Amen …

Between Pulpit and Piano

A pastor once said, “Everyone has one good sermon in them.” I am not sure if it was to encourage thought or because he wanted to sit in a pew and listen every once in a while, but the story resulted in a gift of a journal which led to these stories, so there is truth in the statement.

“One great rock show can change the world!” Dewey Finn (Jack Black) – School of Rock

When you ask for wisdom it may appear in the literary masterpiece that is School of Rock, yet there it is. If one great rock show can change the world then one good sermon could as well, if not more. My words in song or story may not be profound, poetic or grammatically correct, but they are honest, unfiltered and written as God grants me His whispers to ponder.

I have offered stories from pulpit and piano, yet mostly writings of others. What could I write better than “Amazing Grace” or can you sing “How Great Thou Art” too many times?  There were songs I thought would touch a certain churchgoer, only to see them slip out before I could find out. I too have left the church broken, my meager talents failing what I thought needed to be said. Perhaps I will find out about both one day, sitting at the feet of Jesus next to those that were changed, if any.

This world has its own ruler to measure success, and in the literary world, it is books sold or blogs read. My brother asked if only one heart was changed, was my writing worth it? “Absolutely.” He responded, “Then keep writing, all the rest is in God’s hands.” Though my readership numbers are not astounding by any measure, my words have made it from Russia to China, Europe to Africa reaching around the world, not by my efforts, but the Almighty Hand of God, at the time and place of His choosing.

Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16-20 – NIV

As I learn to write, publish and extend the Kingdom of God, my focus is to produce good fruit, not just in my writing, but in everything I do, every effort I make. In my deepest prayers, I ask:

Does my life reflect Your Glory?
Does my heart respond in praise?
Search until you weed out all the hidden parts
And nothing’s left there but Your Grace
.
Be Glorified – John G Adams

Lord I pray Your Grace would abound in me and through me, that I may be a reflection of your great Love that others would draw nearer to Thee.

Amen …

If you have been blessed by my meager ramblings, send me a note at John@BlessedInGreatMeasure.com. I love to hear good stories.

Keep an eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Seeing is More Than Merely Sight

Jerusalem – at a pool called Bethesda meaning house of grace. Ironic as being outside the city walls, it was a place of disgrace for outcasts and the sick. There sat a man, who for 38 years tried to reach the “magic” water to no avail, as he could not walk.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6 ESV

He responded with reasons why he could not be healed, crippled by unusable legs and self-pity.

City of Jericho – a blind man cried out

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:47,51 NIV

Again, two blind men approached Jesus

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Matthew 9:27-29 NIV

Why did Jesus ask the questions? He knew what they needed and that He would heal them. It was the personal relationship He longs for, a challenge of faith that seeing is more than merely sight. The blind were healed according to their faith while the man at the pool, wallowing in despair, needed a good push.

My pool of Bethesda was a park bench and a shade tree. I sat in silence wounded and broken, tossing pennies in a wishing well. Jesus said, “Get up and walk.” Hesitation held me back. Jesus said, “Do you want to be healed? Get up and walk.” I rose and faced my journey with renewed vigor. As burdens drew me back toward the waters, Jesus said, “Keep walking.”

As Jesus spoke, I answered like the crippled man, lost in my own pity. When He asked again, I said, “Yes Lord, restore my sight, I believe You can.” It was a contrast of perspective, either to drown in the muddy waters of my frailty or embrace my weakness and allow God’s power to be displayed through it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – NIV

His Grace is more than sufficient and His power is perfect, with or without me, yet even more so when I humble myself in weakness, that His Grace may abound.

Amen …

 

Shadows of Goliath

For forty days, the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. – 1 Samuel 17:16 NIV

Forty days have I heard Goliath screaming in the distance, eight feet tall with 125 pounds of armor, daring me to step forward. Slingshot in hand, by the Power of God, Goliath fell. I marched onward victorious only to encounter the shadow of the next Goliath, and the next.

Lifted by the Mighty Hands of God and clothed in the armor of Christ, the flesh beneath is weak and the heart is fragile. When steps forward are not long enough, holes form in the chain-mail that protects my inmost being leaving me a bit more broken at each turn.

Much like young David, I cannot bear the weight of another’s armor, their mocking words driving me to my knees. Yet little do they know it is where I find my strength.

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Isaiah 40:12 – NLT

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28,31 NLT

Where else would I go? Shields and spears result in more shields and spears. One good swing only deserves another. I instead grab the slingshot of my youth, a fragile prayer to the open heart of Abba Father, the Creator of All Things. One smooth stone guided by the Hand of God and Goliath crumbles. Other giants may stand in my way, but stones are plentiful and the Power of the Lord is everlasting.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Isaiah 40:28-29 NLT

Cowering from fear of the thundering voice of a giant, the Lord emboldens me to say,

Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. 1 Samuel 17:26,47

I pray these words may echo and allow me to stand firm when Goliaths abound.

Amen …

Storm in the Desert

“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

We all face storms: some safeguarded, silent in awe of the Glory of God in thunder, others seeking shelter from wind and lightning. In the midst of a recently endured storm, afraid of the crashing waves, I stepped out of the boat towards Jesus, only to sink; relying on my own strength, but like Peter, where else was I to go?

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’ “Matthew 14:31 NIV

“Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6:21

Reaching for the hand of Jesus, the rain became soft on my skin and wings of the wind lifted me; floating across waves of blessings and grace unaware to solid ground, exhausted but somehow cleansed.

Confident in the easy rowing of calmer waters, I ventured out once more only to run aground on the lake bed, dry and cracked, thirsty for the slightest drop. The scorching sun burned my skin as dark clouds grew on the horizon. With nothing more than the clothes on my back to protect me, again I feared the wind.

Yet through the blinding sun and blowing sandstorm, I failed to see my Savior approaching through the tempest, arms outstretched.

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5 – NIV

“I have brought you through many storms, known and unknown. Why would I stop now? I only ask that you hold on and focus your gaze on Me. All else will succumb to the Power of the will of Our Father in Heaven.”

Ocean winds billow our sails, drawing towards safe harbors while storms in the desert bring life giving water to parched land. Faithfully holding the hand of Jesus is the difference between enduring the storm and being consumed by it. If He carries you through storms in the desert, how much more will He lead you beside still waters?

Be Blessed

 

If you have been blessed by my meager ramblings, send me a note at john@blessedingreatmeasure.com. I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so you will receive an email when the Spirit moves me to scribble thoughts again.

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book :
Echoes Intertwined
a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Arms of the Almighty

Facing a series of mountains, some nearing the summit, others yet approached, staring at the climb ahead. A yearlong project nearing completion, a six-month struggle turning the corner, settling my mother in a final resting place and my sister boldly facing Goliaths with but a sling and stones, and the Power of God.

Emotions run rampant with steps forward and stumbles backwards, strength and weakness, peaks and valleys. In the midst of uncertainty, the Lord speaks.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 – NIV

Reading deeper in Joshua it says, “be strong and courageous” in verse 6, then in verse 7, then again in verse 9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

Not just a single halftime pep talk, but a Godly command, and repeated two times over; a message He wanted us to hear loudly today.

Moses had died and Joshua was in charge of God’s people. It was time to cross the Jordan into lands God promised after many years of wandering. I imagine Joshua felt as unprepared for the tasks as I am now. God responded with, “Be strong and courageous,” and said it again, and again. At times, we do not understand what God is saying or just cannot accept it, so He repeats Himself until it sinks in.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NIV

If we were truly strong and courageous on our own accord, we would rely on our resources to drive back the challenge before us. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, so I need to accept my frailty to allow His power to take over, to become perfect. Being fragile is not the problem, accepting it and laying it down as a pathway for God’s great power is the task.

Relying on God’s immeasurably sufficient grace, especially in the face of weakness, allows us to be strong and courageous wrapped in the loving arms of the Almighty.

Be strong, courageous and blessed.

 

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

 

 

Soundtracks

Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters provides the backdrop as summer showers trace windowpanes; dropping quarters in my inner jukebox to replay over and over. Karen Carpenter’s sweet voice conveys feelings in my soul as she has done many times. Tears well up as my life’s soundtrack recounts bluer days of my past, but also for such lost talent, poetic embers that faded too soon. Young girls longed to be Karen; I emulated her brother Richard, the musical genius that fueled the songs that warmed my heart through colder days.

Soundtracks of my life run through many landscapes: tender songs of Barry Manilow and James Taylor, arena rock of Styx and Rush, buckle shining waltzes of George Strait and Charlie Pride, and Christian music from Amy Grant and Keith Green, to Petra, Third Day, Casting Crowns all the way to Skillet. Each song found me where I was and drew me to where I am, or needed to be.

Soundtracks play in the background, creating a mood or accentuating some event or emotion. Thoughts of my own recall days of peace and angst, joy and sorrow, hearts broken and hearts restored.

Music may drive my mood or be driven by it. Some days need guitar driven, face melting screaming at the wall, others are floating on peace like a river. Days in-between lean toward the purest of praise from Steven Curtis Chapman, Phillips Craig and Dean, Chris Tomlin and Lauren Daigle.

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 KJV

I am in great need of the Lord inhabiting my praises, my music, my words, whether spoken, sung or written. May each breath be a soundtrack of praise that the Lord may inhabit all that I am, so that others may know all He is.

Amen…

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Retracing Footsteps

A friend posed the question, “If you could go back and change anything in your past, would you? And what would it be?

There were times I have hurt and been hurt, words spoken in anger to me and from me, places I walked right into instead of running away as I should have. I have stumbled over stones, large and small, arisen with skinned knees and bruised shins. The pain I have caused is certainly regretful, but to go back and undo mistakes given the chance? No thank you.

The only way to make footprints is to take a step, one foot in front of the other. Looking back on footsteps retraces where I have been, paths that I have taken, and those that I should have chosen instead. Ruts where I fell into the ditch and the footprints of Jesus, on solid rock, lifting me out of the mire.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34 – NIV

The Lord pulls us from shadows into His light, gracefully forgiving and forgetting our sin, yet He allows old footprints to remain, not as a pathway backwards, but reminders of the struggles He has brought us through to encourage onward and upward.

Experiences, both good and bad have led to where we are and who we are; mistakes are but stepping-stones to lessons learned. As time passes, memories fade, so recalling the pleasant and releasing the painful keeps us from dwelling in darkness. Reaching towards the light allows “The Light” to draw us closer to Him.

The only way to make footprints is to take a step, one foot in front of the other. Take steps.

 

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Frequency

In his devotional THE DAILY, Jeromy Deibler, (give his site a visit, you will be blessed) spoke of being in tune with “God’s frequency.” As “frequency” relates to sound waves, it is the rate of vibration of sound traveling through the air, either high pitched or low pitched. God’s frequency is a wonderful thing and most often requires a calmness of mind to find the right channel. At times, it takes being broken to clear the noise and find the gentle voice of God.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18 NIV

“Frequency” in a general sense is when a task is repeated over a certain period of time. Athletes, both physical and intellectual (math-letes) continually practice their particular skill until it becomes second nature where instincts are allowed to take over. Seeking God’s Kingdom should be the same. Frequency of sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening, can result in blessings of wisdom and a peaceful heart.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

“Frequency” in asking, seeking and knocking will will lead to being more in tune with the “frequency” of God. When you find that station, mark it as a favorite and return there often.

Be Blessed in Great Measure today.

 

I you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.