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Alpha Ministries, Inc

Church in the Woods at ....

Freedom Ranch

Choices

Dear Saints,

All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!

Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.

Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “

The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.

John

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Napping in the Storm

Posted on 19 November, 2020 at 11:35

Dear Saints,

 

How do you take a nap in the middle of a ragging storm? The story of Jesus being sound asleep in the boat during a mini hurricane on the lake of Galilee amazes me (Mark 4: 35-40). Just getting in a boat usually makes me nervous never mind being caught in a storm. The fact that experienced fishermen who knew how to sail were freaked tells me this was no small storm threatening to destroy their boat. In fact, the situation was so dangerous as the boat began filling up with water they thought it necessary to interrupt Jesus getting some rest to prepare for the worst. Of course, Jesus quickly dealt with the situation and rebuked them for their foolish worry.

 

Mark tells us how Jesus took care of this life-threatening situation by simply rebuking the wind and telling the sea, “Peace, be still”. Clearly Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, was not in the least bit worried about the raging storm because he knew he was in charge and “even the wind and the sea obey him”. So he asked those with him, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Silly disciples. There was no need to freak out over the storm when they were in the same boat as the Master. Yet Mark reports they thought they were going to die, and the Master didn’t care. That’s why they woke him from his nap in the first place. Even after Jesus calmed the sea Mark tells us they “feared exceedingly” and asked themselves what kind of man was in the same boat with them.

 

Like those early disciples we are in the same boat as Jesus in this world. Because we have been joined to him ( he in us and us in him) and he has sent us into the world just as the Father sent him, we are in the same boat with him. What happens to us happens to him. When the storms arise and threaten to destroy us they threaten him as well. The reason he can take a nap in the middle of the storm is because he, as Paul put it in Colossians 3: 15, “let the peace of God rule” in his heart. Because Jesus and the Father are one he experiences the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And because we are in him and he in us we too can experience the peace of God in the middle of the storms of life.

 

Likewise Paul admonishes us to, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” in the same way it did for Jesus. Believing that Jesus is in the same boat as we, that we are in him and he is in us, is allowing the peace of God to govern our decisions in life. No matter how threatening the storms may seem to be, the Master is there to command, “Peace, be still”. Rather than being controlled by fear and worry about what might happen, we can live in peace having the confidence we need to make the right choices for ourselves and others.

 

I’m not sure I will ever get to the point where I can take a nap in the middle of the storm. But I can honestly say that I see the storms as an opportunity to hear the Master command, “Peace, be still”. Even in these dark days of the latter times we live in, we have a confidence and boldness in the peace of God ruling in our hearts to rebuke the wind and calm the waves. No matter how threatening the storms of life may be, Jesus remains in charge even when it seems he is taking a nap. You can trust him because he’s in the same boat with you.

 

John

 

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