Rendered Useful

14 04 2010

“9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

If you would have asked me, seven years ago, where I would have seen myself in 2010, I most definitely would have missed the mark.  Thank God.
Seven years ago I had just graduated from Biola University with a BA in Radio/TV/Film and Communications.  I had obtained my minor in Bible while studying the art of film and acting during my four years at Biola.  I woke up everyday with a dream and a passion.  I had all my plans mapped out and I knew where I was headed.  My plans were based on my need for acceptance and my need for attention.  I wanted to be an actor in movies, television or both.  I wanted to make people around the world laugh and cry.  I wanted to be famous….who doesn’t?

Needless to say…..you don’t own a DVD with my mug in it and I am sure that it your movie collection will continue to be JB free.  I tried the Hollywood thing, working at ABC, but I did not find the peace that I thought would come with my “dream” job.  I had a foot in the door with a major studio, had a great job and I felt empty and useless.  So, I did what any film student would do with this opportunity, I threw it away.  I spent a little more time in Hollywood and after a long tough season of life I parted ways with Hollywood, Los Angeles, acting, my dreams and moved back to the San Francisco East Bay.

I felt so lost.  I was a man looking for a place to land.  I was looking for my calling and I was looking for my purpose.  I was about to walk through one of the most trying times of my life.  I struggled to understand who God had made me to be and I was willing to try anything.  I tried youth ministries, sales, coffee making and then came worship leading.

I found, very quickly, that God had a calling for me in worship leading and it was in worship leading that God would save a hurting heart.  I remember the first time I led worship, at my church, and how I felt life rush through my body.  I felt life coursing through my veins.  I felt at home.  I could see that God was using me to lead others to his presence in worship and I could feel Him leading me to worship Him more everyday.  Even in this new path I managed to find trouble.  I walked into trap after trap and I got discouraged.  In the troubled times God did something amazing….although it was the hardest days of my adult life.  He humbled me and he brought me to me knees.  God wanted me to surrender my pride, ego and self-love so that He could use me.  He also was calling for me to surrender my hurting heart…..He wanted to heal me. What I did not know was that my healing would be the ministry that God would call me to.

I had a lot of hurts from my childhood and I was learning that holding onto those hurts would lead me nowhere.  On the flip side, God has been showing me that those same hurts can be used to help other people get through their hurts, but only when they are surrendered to Him.  What God has been showing me is that I can either let those hurts control my life or I can use them to help others.  God is showing me that my hurts have not been rendered useless but instead have been rendered useful.  In fact, I am starting to see how God led me through all the seasons of my life to better shape me, equip me and prepare me for the ministry that He has planned for me.  God has now revealed to me the ministry that will define my life.  He has called me to help adult children of divorce get through their pain and anger.  God has taken something terrible and has given me a ministry to help others.  I would never had guessed that this would become my passion or my ministry.  Like I said, seven years ago….. I was way off.

I say all of this to make a simple point.  God has plans for you.  You may not see it yet and you might be disappointed with the way life has seemed to shape up so far, but I promise you that God has a plan for you.  You might not ever be famous but God wants to use you to further His kingdom.   He wants to use your hurts and your experiences to reach others.  He wants you to surrender.

I know one thing is certain….nobody is ever rendered useless by their heavenly father.  We have all been rendered useful.  Sometimes it takes a little longer to see what it is that God has called us to.  Please don’t give up.  Lift your eyes to the heavens and press on.

“11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Be blessed,

JB





Wisdom: Final Answer

6 04 2010

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “… Give me wisdom and knowledge…”
God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

2 Chronicles 1:7-12 NIV (paraphrased)

So…. What would you have said?  Don’t even pretend that you would have answered the same way that Solomon answered when God asked him the desires of His heart.  Be honest with yourself…..come on….just admit it.  You would have asked for anything besides wisdom.  How am I so sure?  Because I know for a fact that wisdom was not on the top of my list, until now.  I would have asked for something that could be spent, driven, lived in, worn, decorated or played.  Not wisdom.  The funny reality is that my list shows how much I need God’s wisdom in my life instead of all that other “junk” that can so easily be destroyed and taken from me, and yet I don’t see it until I read this verse.

Have you ever struggled to wrap your brain around why life has been so difficult for you lately or in the past?  I know I have.  I often times look back and I ask God, “Where did I go wrong there?”  Then He obviously points out that I was lacking wisdom.  Even then, I still move forward in life and continue to make choices that lack God’s wisdom.  Why?
Sometimes the way we live is crazy.  We know that there will be unfavorable consequences for our actions and we still choose to participate.  Like going onto the beaches of Hawaii with no sunscreen on….that’s stupid.  I have the pictures to prove it.

My point is this.  Would I ever do that again??  I would hope not but you can’t be certain.  Why?  Because sometimes a tropical tan is higher on my list of desires than wisdom is.
I say this all in a joking manner but the truth is still there.  Why do I insist on asking God for anything other than His wisdom on a daily basis?  It could be a number of things like my pride, independence or selfish nature but the truth is that I am not sure why I don’t ask for God’s wisdom.  The amazing part is that God loves me so much, that he forgives me and He will give me wisdom if I ask for it.

So, I have started asking for it daily.  Do you know what has happened in my life?  Amazing and wonderful things!  No, I have not won the lottery or become President, although I am convinced that I can do a better job than the “anointed one”, but I have started seeing life through different eyes.  It’s awesome!  I am seeing life with eyes that aren’t fixated on me and my own personal gain and prosperity, but instead are focused on doing what God would want me to do.  What I have learned is that living life with a heart that desires God’s wisdom gives you purpose.

Solomon asked for a greater purpose the day that he asked God for wisdom and knowledge and God gave it to him.

There is nothing more valuable than living a life that desires God’s wisdom and knowledge because those two things will never steer you in the wrong direction.

“The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.” Psalm 37:30
“turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding…” Proverbs 2:2
“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Proverbs 2:6
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse…” Proverbs 2:12
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding…” Proverbs 3:13
“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”  Proverbs 4:11
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”  Proverbs 11:2

These are just a few of the verses on wisdom.  Look it up.  Do a study on God’s wisdom and do whatever you need to do to answer like Solomon did.  I know that I am working on it.  I am trying to remember to always put wisdom on the top of the list of my heart’s desires just like Solomon did.
Although, answering God like Solomon may not make me a millionaire, I am working on trying to always answer God with “Wisdom:Final Answer.”

Thanks for reading…..see you soon.

JB





Waiting Patiently

3 04 2010


“24
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Romans 8:24 – 26 NIV

I have never really given the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, namely Saturday, any real thought and/or importance as I have reflected on this amazing story of Christ’s love for us, but today is different.  I am challenged to think that today is the day that the first church “held their breath” and waited to see if Christ was really going to come back to them as he had promised.  Today was the first day that 12 men did not wake up and meet with their teacher.  Today was the first day in 3 years where the blind, lame, deaf and hurting did not have the opportunity to be touched by the healing hands of God.  Today the world was in shock.

Let’s look at the disciples and the people that believed that Christ was the Messiah, their Savior.  Today would have been the first day that they would have to take Jesus at his word without him being there to encourage them to have faith.  I think that this would have been one the hardest days for the hearts of those that followed Jesus.  I am sure that their hearts were riddled with confusion and grief.  They loved this man, their Messiah, with all that they were and now he was gone.  I am sure waking up on that Saturday felt a little surreal.  I am sure that they all double checked to make sure that Jesus was really gone and that Friday was not just a bad dream.  I am sure Peter either did not sleep or slept very little due to the anguish he felt from rejecting Jesus three times after he had been arrested.  I am sure he cried all night long.  If you have ever lived through a hard and dark time in life then you know how easy it is to cry until the daybreak.  I can imagine them all sitting together silently with blank looks on their faces as they think about Jesus and all that he had said and done.  Was it true?  Was he the Messiah?  That’s what I would have been thinking as I woke the day following the death of Jesus.  I would have been confused.

I remember when my grandma died in 1997.  I remember not really believing that she had passed and that I was not going to see her again.  I could not begin to comprehend that her smile would only be seen in an old picture or in my memories.  I remember staring at her, during the memorial, hoping and waiting that she would open her eyes, get out of the casket, and come hug me.  Truthfully, I was devastated.  I tried to give a little speech at her memorial and I lost it.  I did not have it in me.  My heart was broken and I was grieving the loss of somebody that I loved dearly.  I still miss her and I wish that she could have lived to see some of the monuments in my life but that wasn’t the plan.  God had a plan for her life and it was perfect, even if I did not like it. I remember waking up the day after her memorial feeling like I was hit by a truck.  I wanted to wake up and hear her rustling around down stairs.  I wanted it all to be a bad dream.  I wanted her to still be alive and with us.  That day was hard.  It was the beginning of grieving and the beginning of rejoicing that she had gone home to Jesus.  I will never forget how I felt the day after she died.

I guess I know what the disciples would have been feeling when they woke up today.  I am sure that they would have felt like they had been hit by a chariot, they did not have trucks back then, and they would have felt deep sadness.  I guess their story would be different than anything that you and I have ever experienced because, unlike my Grandma, Jesus told them that He would come back to them.  This would have made things interesting.  They had to sit and wait.  Check out this verse, Psalm 37:7,  it speaks volumes to what their hearts must have been feeling:

“7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

I am glad that we know the ending to this story but I think that there is a great lesson for us in the days between the crucifixion and Jesus rising from the dead.  There is the age old lesson of waiting patiently for God’s plan to be fulfilled.  The early church could have walked away from Jesus when he did not save himself or destroy Rome.  They could have dismantled the early church after Jesus died but they didn’t because they took him at his word.  The disciples and the early church are an example to us all.  They waited patiently before they jumped to conclusions.  They gave God’s plan time to play out in their lives.  They took God at His word and they endured through the hardest day that the Christian Church has ever faced.

I am so thankful that Christ endured our sins and that he rose from that grave so that we can live with Him for eternity.  I am also thankful that the disciples and the early church waited patiently for God’s plan to unfold.

I am looking forward to celebrating with you all tomorrow!

Blessings,
JB





At The Cross

2 04 2010

Good Friday.

Always feels weird to call it “good” considering the events that took place today thousands of years ago.  I understand why we have called it Good Friday but the name still seems to lack the seriousness that my heart longs for today.  Think about it, today is a day to contemplate the heavy burden that our Savior took for us when he was “…disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness[1]” and he bore our shame and sin as he hung upon the cross.  I am challenged to examine the price that it cost to redeem my sin and I am challenged to understand that Jesus took my burden, my beating, my punishment, my debt, my death, my infirmities, my sorrows and he paid for it all with his own sacred life.  God came from heaven, lived a perfect life, was beaten and tortured at the hands of his creation, was hung upon a cross, went to hell, defeated death and offers love to all of us…..breathtaking and unbelievable love.

As I let my mind steep with thoughts of Jesus offering his life for us, I enter a place of wonder.  I wonder what it would have been like to follow Jesus everyday and then watch as he fulfilled the prophecies of old.  To watch as Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man.

Look at the prophecy of old and understand why Jesus asks for the cup to pass…..ultimately the Father’s will was the only way.

“I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;  I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting…. [2]”

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…[3]”

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, by his wounds we are healed. [4]”

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was lead like a lamb to the slaughter, a sheep before the shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. [5]”

“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities…. because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.[6]”

What would it have been like to watch as the soldiers hammered the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus?  What would it have been like to stand, sit or kneel at the foot of the cross?  What would it have been like to see a man fulfill the prophecy that was foretold almost 1000 years prior to this day?  What would it have been like to watch as people yelled and insulted Jesus as he hung on the cross, for their sins?  What would it have been like to see men casting lots for the clothes that Jesus wore while he was still alive and suffering?  What would it have been like to watch and listen as Jesus promises eternity to the thief as he hung upon the cross?  What would it have been like to hear your savior as he gasped for breath?  What would it have been like to hear Jesus cry out to God in his final moments as a man?  What would it have been like to see the spear enter his side?  What would it have been like to feel the earth quake, to see the curtain of the temple tear from top to bottom and to see the rocks split?  What would it have been like?

As I sit with these “wonders” I know that it could not have been a good Friday on that day….it had to be a long hard day.

Today, Good Friday, I can’t move on to the victory that I know comes in three days….I just can’t.  My sin and your sin set this all in motion.  He died for you and I.  He bore the heavy weight of the world and he died so that we would not have to.  Today I can’t move on.  I want to sit and think about how much Christ endured 2010 years ago.  Today I choose to sit at the cross.

blessings,

JB

[1] Isaiah 52:14 , [2] Isaiah 50:6, [3] Isaiah 53:4, [4] Isaiah 53:5, [5] Isaiah 53:7, [6] Isaiah 53:10 – 12