December 10, 2015

Moving Forward Quickly

So today is my first day home for winter break. I am blessed to have these next three weeks off, and even though my schedule is packed (with family and Christmas), I am excited to have the downtime I need to recharge and feel more refreshed before heading into the new year.

God has a great plan for 2016, and I am eager to experience all that He has in mind for me. I know that the Lord has the details worked out, and that my days are all accorded to His desires for His work and His will. He has provided for me, and He meets my needs with sufficiency. He is good, so very good to me.

Plans and Moving Forward

As I sit here today and blog, I give Him praise for His goodness. He has given me the best career possible, and He has provided a good environment for me to work in. My job is challenging (in a good way), and it affords me luxuries that most jobs do not. I have downtime through out each semester, almost full-control and autonomy in my classes, and the blessing and benefit of doing my own thing to teach my students using curriculum I design. While I do struggle with the financial uncertainty at times, with not having that permanent tenure contract, I know that what I do have is straight from the Lord's hand, and I can rest and be satisfied with what He has graciously and generously provided to me.

My hope is to receive a full-time offer soon. The Lord knows where and when this will be as well as with whom so there is no point in me worrying over these details. In time, He will reveal it to me, and I will be offered a very good position. I know this is true, and while I am impatient at times, I know that the Lord would not bring me this far into this path to have me fail, to falter, or to find that I must figure things out on my own. No, this is not His way, at the least, this has not been His way with me.

The Lord has led me by the hand from the beginning of my faith walk/journey with Him. He took my hand, and asked me to follow Him. I said I would, and since that day, we have walked hand-in-hand through hardships, difficult trials, and challenging circumstances. He has shown me truth, sometimes "hard truth," and He has comforted me as I processed what he wanted me to know. He has never left me, never stood aside while I suffered in and through the trial. No, He has stood with me, held me, and comforted me as I learned the truth about my life, exposed the lies and sins, and came to a point of genuine and heartfelt confession and contrition.

In this way, He has carefully shepherded me, graced me with His love and care, and showered His mercy upon me. I have learned that His yoke is indeed easy to bear, and His burden, well, it is much lighter than my own. He has been my ROCK, my REDEEMER, and my steady RESILIENT and RIGHTEOUS WARRIOR. He has done everything necessary to bring me to this place of penance, and in this place, I rest. I rest. I let my burdens go, and I find the comfort, the companionship, and the care I so desperately need. He is my Lord, my life, and my love. There is no one higher, better, or more capable to do what He is calling me to do than the Lord. I give all praise, all honor, and all testimony to Him. He is good, so very good to me.

Today, I look forward to the plans the Lord has for me. I look forward with hopeful expectation, with great excitement, and with eager anticipation. He is God, and because He is God, there is nothing He desires for my life that will not be, will not come to pass. He has me so well-covered, so well-provided, and so well-established that today whatever He decides, whatever He determines, and whatever He declares will happen. I have full-faith and confidence that His word is true (truth - John 17:17b). I believe He is who He claimed to be, and I know with assurance, with complete and utter assurance, that He is coming again. Selah! God be praised, He is coming again! Come, Lord Jesus!

My life, then, is to be lived in such a way as to bring Him honor and praise. I made this my commitment to Him, not out of duty but out of heartfelt thanks and gratitude. He has saved me, lifted me out of the pit of slavery, and He has set my feet on the solid rock, the path of righteousness. I am indebted to Him for His grace and His mercy. I am living my life now as a living testimony to the Spirit of witness that says to me "I AM." He is the great I AM, and He has shown Himself to me in miraculous ways. I see His hand continually as it performs miracle after miracle. I hear His voice as He speaks words into my spirit, and I understand difficult and challenging things, things much to high for human understanding. I glean knowledge of His word, of the world, and of His way.

I am changed through this experience, daily, and I am drawn in deeper and deeper into the mysteries of His marvelous grace. I cannot explain what He means to me, how He has changed me personally, inside and out, and how He is equipping me for every good work. I am living out the Word of Truth, the very words of Scripture that bear testimony saying that those who draw near to God will know the truth, they will know Him personally. I have experienced this deeper relationship with the Lord, in far more exciting and personal ways, than I ever thought possible. The Lord is more than the words on the page of the Bible. The Lord is more than the platitudes and praises we sing each Sunday morning. He is alive, and in His life there is hope, joy, peace, and contentment. There is power too, so much power, and in this power, there is great possibility to see the world transformed, one heart and one mind at a time. May the Lord's work, the great harvest come to fruition, and may many people come to know Him as I do -- as Lord of all life, as Lord of all.

The Stones Will Cry Out

I was just laughing at my post, my previous paragraph because I thought to myself, "Oh my, what if someone reads this and thinks that I am crazy, wacky, and not fit to teach students!" I can see this happening. In truth, I can. I believe that a time is coming, it is very close at hand, when people like me will be silenced and forbidden to share their faith publicly. The Word says it this way in Luke 19:35-40 NASB,
They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.  As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: 
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Jesus said even the stones will cry out. Praise be to God. Though the world try to silence the voice of the martyr, yes, even the stones will cry out.

I find that as I get older, I am becoming more and more direct in my expression of faith. I don't like controversy, and I don't like confrontation. I want to be left alone to believe, to live, to worship as I desire. However, I am also reminded that my role is to speak the word of truth in love (not in hate), and that means that I must speak the word -- SPEAK THE WORD -- in order for others to hear it. I am also reminded that in these dark and perilous times, the word will not be silenced. Though the enemy camp around us, he will not be victorious. No, the Lord has already overcome, and it is by His might and His power, that the captives have been set free. Selah!

Moving Ahead Despite the Odds

So today as I sit here and blog, I am thinking of moving forward despite what seem to be impossible odds. I mean, who am I to be considered worthy of an Assistant Professor position? What qualifications do I hold now or will have shortly that will make me the better or best candidate for that open position? In truth (oh, how I love to say that phrase), there is nothing about me, save the Lord, that makes me worthy, interesting, or even exciting to look at or consider for a full-time faculty position. I am not worthy. I am not even good enough to compete on paper against others who have more experience, better education, longer record of scholarship, etc. Yes, when I compare my achievements with those of other candidates, my record falls short. It falls flat.

Yet, I have the Lord, and whoohoo! that means that I have every confidence that I do indeed have the better resume, the better qualifications, and the better candidate profile. I may not have all my ducks in a row just yet, but I have the Lord on my side. The word says in Romans 8:31 NLT, "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"

I know that I cannot compete against men and women who are better qualified, more seasoned, and positioned with more experience and education on my own feet, on my own accord. I can, however, compete against any number of candidates simply on His merits alone. You see, what I have done, what I have accomplished is a miracle, and in that testimony, there is great strength, great power, and great possibility. He has done this through me, and He has made this way possible for me. Therefore, I can only go to where He has made a way for me. This means that there is no job too high, too prestigious, too out of reach that the Lord cannot and will not consider. My heart may fail, my mind may think "No, Lord, this is too rich, too good, too hard, too high for me to even consider!" Yet, if He has chosen it, then it will be. I must go, I must follow after Him, and I must trust that He will open the door, open the opportunity, and open the path for me to be considered. I know this is truth. There is nothing too difficult for God, for I AM, and His power, His might, and His method are all that is needed to score, to bring to pass, and to accomplish His blessed will.

How I thank the Lord today that I am not to pursue this path on my own, with my own mind, or my own effort! How I thank Him that I am to wait patiently for His command to "go," and then and only then, I must go in His strength, in His wisdom, and with His provision. I don't have to figure this out, to see how to make this happen. I can rest and know that He will provide for me. He will make this way smooth as His word says in Proverbs 3:6 NLT, "Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."

So today, I take heart. I look up, and I wait patiently for the Lord to move me into the position of His choosing. It is there --> right over there --> and I can see it coming to pass. I must wait for Him to move first, and then I must listen for His voice to call me forward. In doing so, I will receive the blessing of His provision, the sweetness of His reward for my faithfulness and my obedience to His way. I will wait, Lord, I will wait. God be praised! Forevermore, may the Lord be praised. Selah!

What Does This Mean for Me

It is interesting how in just a few short weeks, I have moved from the point of total and utter frustration to this place of complete and absolute control. How is this possible?

I know part of the change is due to my finishing my semester at Regent. I mean, this past semester was beyond difficult for me. I would say that taking the combination of COM 708 History of Communication (as a TA) and COM 709 Theology and Communication was a bear beyond words. I worked harder as a TA then I did when I took the class back in 2013. Moreover, Theology was just hard, plain and simple, it was a challenge. I read 13 classic works, and I wrote a critical review for each one of them (one per week). On top of that, I had massive amounts of discussion board posts and replies, a major scholarly paper to write (on Peter Abelard), and a critical analysis of one of my peer's major papers to review. But, praise be to God, I did it all. I did it all, and I managed to teach four different courses at two schools. Talk about multitasking, will you! I did it, I managed an intense schedule, and I even completed some work on my dissertation and started to prepare for my qualification exams. Whew! How was all this possible? It was only possible because the Lord went before me, prepared my way, and gave me His grace to accomplish all that I needed to accomplish this semester. What is more, I accomplished all of this with excellence. I mean, I didn't just slag it over the finish line, nope. I ran right on through to the end with exhilaration and joy, complete and overwhelming joy, excitement, and gladness.

Psalm 100:2 NASB "Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing."

Now, I am ready, so very ready to take these next steps. I haven't been able to concentrate on much besides my school work and teaching this past semester. However, the semester is over (officially tomorrow), and while I wait my grade in Theology (praise be to God!), I am starting to begin the official plans for spring and summer 2016. I have some major hurdles to jump over, but as I run this race of faith, I run it with His steam, His power. In many ways, I am like Eric Liddell, the English Missionary who once said,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I believe God made me for a purpose too. He gave me a brain, and the ability to think critically, analytically, and to do scholarly research and work. He has equipped me and trained me for His express purpose, and in doing so, when I do His work, I feel His pleasure. I feel His pleasure in me as I study, I write, I teach, I go and do whatever He asks me to do. This is when I feel Him closest to me. I recognize His presence in these moments, when I am utterly and completely dependent upon Him, when I know that I cannot achieve, overcome, or complete the tasks set before me. I am not able, in my own strength, with my own fortitude, or with any combination of mental acuity or skill. I simply cannot do what He asks me to do. It is then that I know He is pleased with me. He performs, He powers through, and I experience His presence in and through each task, each opportunity, each challenge. He amazes me. He allows me to receive credit, to earn respect, and to take some measure of regard for my efforts, yet I know that I would be nothing without Him. I would not be where I am today if it were not for His ability, His grace, and His mercy. I give Him all praise, honor, and glory. He is good, so very good to me!

As I prepare for this good day, another good day (Praise be to God!), I remember that today is His gift to me. I am to use it for His praise, to bring Him honor, and to accomplish all the tasks He has set before me. I do everything today with Him in mind. I run so as to feel His pleasure, and in doing so, He is pleased with me, with my efforts, with my attempts (futile as they may be). I see His smile, and I know that I am right where I belong, right where He wants me to be. I am good today; He is good today. Together, we are good, so very good.

Words by William B. Bradbury (1816-1868)

O come before the Lord, our king,
And in His presence let us sing;
Let us in glad and joyful lays
The rock of our salvation praise;
Before Him come with thankful song,
In joyful psalms His praise prolong.

Almighty power the Lord maintains,
Exalted over all He reigns;
He holds the valleys in His hand,
He makes the mighty mountains stand;
To Him belong both land and sea,
Creator of the world is He.

O come and let us worship now,
Before our maker let us bow;
We are His sheep and He our God,
He feeds our souls in pastures broad;
He safely leads us in the way;
O come and heed His voice today.

Take heed and harden not your heart
As did your fathers, nor depart
From God to follow in their ways;
For with complaints instead of praise,
With doubt instead of faith confessed,
They put His mercy to the test.

Take heed that ye provoke Him not
As did your fathers, who forgot,
With erring heart, God’s holy ways
And grieved Him all their sinful days;
To whom in wrath Jehovah sware,
My promised rest they shall not share.

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