Don’t Miss Your Opportunities!

Many of us tend to live in extremes.  Sometimes it seems like balance is very difficult to find in our lives.  I know it has been for me.

Even as we view the history of the church it’s easy to see the pendulum swing from one end to the other.  Years ago an extreme repentance message was preached commonly referred to as Hell, Fire and Brimstone.  There was a lack of love and grace being preached in many cases.  Many were very damaged by that movement coming away full of condemnation.

Now it appears that an unbalanced Grace message has permeated the church and the message of repentance has been missing.  This is equally unacceptable as repentance is a foundational block in the gospel message.  The hard truth is needed but it needs to be wrapped in the spirit of Love as Paul says “it’s the kindness of God that draws men to repentance”.

We also noticed the extreme tendencies when we seek to be used by God in the lives of those around us.  The two positions seem to be complete passivity in which we never take opportunities to minister to others, and creating our own opportunities to minister in whatever way we determine is appropriate.

Both of these positions are damaging as passivity will cause the person needing ministry (encouragement, prayer, service etc.) to miss what God wants to do for them and creating our own opportunities will make many people hate you with legitimate cause.  Creating our own opportunities will surely offend many and make us the least favorite people in the room.  In addition to the lack of love it shows to speak into someones life without permission, it’s rebellion against God because He calls us to obedience.  Obedience means responding to God rather than trying to make Him respond to us which is what happens when we create our own opportunities to minister.

The balance I have found in this has been to wait for God to present ANY opportunity and then take advantage of that opportunity.  A couple of weeks ago we were called (I’m a firefighter/paramedic) to help a woman who was having severe trouble with anxiety.  As I interacted with the woman I had to check my zeal to minister to her and wait for God to present the opportunity.  At some point she looked at me and said, “It feels like every demon in hell is after me”.  That was the opportunity and I took it. I was able to speak into her life what God gave me to speak.  It was an awesome experience.

Opportunities can look very different in every situation.  It takes patience and guidance from the Holy Spirit.  If that person opens up their life to you in any way you have an opportunity to minister the love of God to them however that looks.  It could be just a word of encouragement or even just being willing to listen.  There is no formula.  The important thing is that we are showing Jesus to the world and that can look different in each situation.  It’s looked very different in many of my ministry opportunities.

I know this, when people know that your going to wait for permission to speak into their lives they will feel so much safer around you and open up to you so much more.  That, in turn, will provide many opportunities to minister to them.

So let’s find balance and wait for God to make a way for us but make sure we are taking the opportunities God provides for us!

Have you missed opportunities because of passivity?  Have you turned people off because of your zeal?  How can God bring balance to your heart?

Please leave your comments below!

Blessings,

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Walking With Jesus, A Vision

I was walking with Jesus and He told me to look up and asked me what I saw.  I saw a starry night that was completely clear where I was looking straight up.  I told Jesus what I saw.  Then I widened my view and saw that there were dark clouds surrounding the patch of clear sky I had been looking at.

The Lord told me that as I walk with Him the dark and stormy clouds are broken through to reveal clear sky.  But He told me that if I take my eyes off of Him the dark clouds will come together quickly.  As we moved forward the patch of clear sky moved with us and stayed right over our heads.

The Lord said, “I am the light.  I am your lamp.  If you look at me you will see me.  If you can’t see me you aren’t looking at me.  I won’t hide myself from you if you are seeking me.  I will never leave or abandon you.  Even in the grip of sin my light shines bright for you.  There is no darkness that can stand next to my light.  I am the light of the world and darkness flees every time.”

Then I had this line from a well-known song pressed on my heart.  “My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus Christ my righteousness……On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”

There have been times in my life when the clouds had surrounded me and I couldn’t see God.  What I sense the Lord is saying here is that it wasn’t because He had left me.  It was because I wasn’t looking at Him.  I took my eyes off of Jesus and put them on the storm clouds.  As those clouds rained hopelessness, dread, anxiety and other things on me, I would begin to sink.

But Jesus is always there with His hand stretched out to rescue us just like He was there when Peter began to sink.  He doesn’t leave and He won’t refuse to shine for us.  He says, “seek me and you will find me” (Jer 29:13) and also “I will be with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9).”

I believe this vision is for all of us.  There is so much pain and tragedy in the world but the light of Jesus shines brighter.  Can you see Him?  Are you looking at Him?  How has His light shined brighter than the darkness of your tragedies?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Prayer Time In The Rescue!

I like that picture!  Anyway,

I absolutely love walking into a strangers house who called for help to find a bible open on a stand just inside the front door.  It fills me with joy because I know I’m going to get to spend some time with God in corporate prayer :).

We were called to help a lady who had some medical issues.  When I opened the front door I saw a bible open to Psalms on a stand.  Me and my happy heart continued on into the house and found our patient.

She was pretty beat up and since it was first thing in the morning, she was in for a rough day.  I got all of the information I needed and we loaded her up into the rescue (ambulance).

As we were on our way to the hospital I asked her what church she went to.  She told me and I asked her what her husband did at the church.  She told me that he is an elder.  I told her a little about how and where we fellowship and about my love for Jesus.

Then I asked her if it would be ok if I prayer for her.  She looked at me with complete surprise on her face and said, “Yes please do that.”  On a quick side note, when two believers are together why should it be a surprise that one would want to pray for the other?  Maybe us ordinary people should be praying for each other more :).

Anywho, I began to pray for her and the Lord filled my heart with even more love and compassion.  He gave me some words to say to her that were just so encouraging and filled with His love for her.  I also prayed for God to heal her injuries and chronic problems.  Peace filled the rescue as we arrived at the hospital.

I was able to check on her later on and she was doing great.  I was able to meet the rest of the family who were all touched by how God ministered to her in the back of the rescue.

Thank you Lord for how you love us and use us ordinary people to be extensions of your love!

I want to challenge you next time you are talking with someone who is sharing some hardship with you to ask the Lord if you should pray for the person right there on the spot.

Also make sure to leave your comments and your own testimonies below in the comments.

Blessings,

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Is God Just a Projection to You?

Projection

 

What would happen if you suddenly realized that the God you believe in isn’t really the God of the bible after all?  It’s a scary question isn’t it?  I think its a question that none of us would really like to spend anytime considering.  But I do think it’s an important question to think about for a moment.

Those of us who love God have, at some point, built an idea of who He is and how He is.  Over the course of time our perception of God becomes our reality of God.  The problem is that some of our reality of God might have nothing to do with truth.

The truth is that our search for who and how God is must not be done apart from Jesus.  We can only understand God to the extent that we understand Jesus.  Jesus is the exact representation of God and if we see Jesus we see God Himself.  Everything invisible about God was made visible in Jesus.  

The point is that our reality of God should only be based on Jesus.  Is that true for your life?  It wasn’t for mine.

I have found that as I grew my reality of God was built by things other than Jesus.  I didn’t look to Jesus for my understanding of God.  I looked to myself.  In other words, I projected on to God every “good” I thought He should have.  For example,

1.   Vulnerability is weakness so for me God is above suffering and unemotional.

2.  Lack of control is unacceptable so God is controlling.

3.  Failure is unacceptable therefore I must never fail to be accepted by God.

4.  Physical fitness is the only acceptable option therefore I must be physically fit to be loved by God.

5.  Perfectionism and being driven are essential qualities therefore I must strive and Drive and be perfect so that God will be happy with me.

I have only listed five but I’m sure there are more.  In fact you might be coming up with more right now.  But lets look at what my reality of God was based on my projections.  To me God was Unemotional, controlling, harsh and I must continuously earn favor with Him by doing and being successful.  

But we must take our “lists” and place them on Jesus.  Does my list line up with the heart, intentions and desires of Jesus?  Let’s see,

1.  Jesus displayed true emotion and suffering many times

2.  Jesus offered what He had but never made or tried to make to choice for anyone. I don’t see any evidence that Jesus was controlling.  Perfect love offers choice not control.

3.  Jesus continued to accept and love those who continued to fail around HIm.

4.  There is no evidence Jesus didn’t love or accept those who were out of shape 🙂

5.  Some essential qualities to Jesus were humility, patience and rest.  He only did things as God directed Him.  He reacted to God and didn’t strive or drive.

My list does not line up to Jesus.  Jesus is the standard when it comes to understanding God.  So I encourage you think about God for a moment.  Write down your thoughts about who He is and how He is.  Then look at Jesus and see if they mesh.  

Throw out whatever doesn’t line up with Jesus.  Thanks to Greg Boyd for helping me see some of this in his book Is God to Blame?

What are some things that you have projected onto God?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected