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    Simple Life
          "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

          We spend much of our time busying ourselves with mediocre attempts at "spirituality." It is my hope that at Simple Life, we will slow down, humble ourselves, and take a deeper look at the grace of our God through Jesus.
          Life does become more simple when our focus isn't on how good we are or aren't, but on how good God is and always will be.

    Sat, Jul 14th - 2:45PM

    Reflections Of A Father



    "Do Tell"

    "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

       "Our Father in heaven,
       hallowed be your name.
     
     Your kingdom come,
       your will be done,
          on earth as it is in heaven.
     
     Give us this day our daily bread, 
     and forgive us our debts,
          as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     
     And lead us not into temptation,
          but deliver us from evil."

    Matthew 6:8-13

    Many have taught lesson upon lesson from this passage about Christ's example of how we are to pray, and those lessons have been readily accepted.  Good lessons.  Great lessons!  But I often wonder if we've "missed the forest for the trees."  I think the key here is understanding what He means when He says, "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." 

    Have you ever wondered, this being the case, why even pray?  My nephew asked me that one night over a cup of coffee at our local Starbuck's.  The question has merit.  Jesus' example even seems to go in the face of what He began His lesson on!  God knows, but He instructs us to ask for our needs to be met.  Why?

    Then it dawned on me as a simple example from my life as a father came to mind.  I told my nephew about his cousin Caity.  She'd come in, all excited about something, and tell her mother every detail of her story with all of the enthusiasm she could muster.  I'd be sitting right there, mind you, as she told her mother.  And no sooner than she finished with her mom, she'd come over to me and begin to tell me all about what I just heard her tell her mother.  I asked my nephew, "What do you suppose I did when she began to tell me her story...again?"  He guessed right.  I listened.  Why?  Did I not already know what she was going to tell me?  Yes I did.  But I listened, not for myself, but for her.

    You see, God knows everything about us, our lives, our worries, our concerns, and our needs, long before we even begin to understand them for ourselves; much in the same way I knew Caity's story before she began to tell me.  He doesn't listen to learn something He doesn't already know.  He listens, that we might learn something we may not already know.  When Caity finished telling me her story, she knew something about me.  She knew that I cared enough to hear her out, and to share in her joy.  She learned that what's important to her is important to me.  When we tell God something He already knows, we learn that He already knows; that He's already King, aware and alert and working on our behalf in the areas we're bringing to Him.  We learn that He already knows, but is more than willing to sit there, like a Father does, and listen to every word.  Because we're important to Him.  He loves us, afterall.

    As a father, this truth has become so real to me. So when I pray, I praise Him for His sovereignty.  I pray for His continued, sovereign work in my life. 

    "And Dad, I know you've got everything under control, but I've got this concern..."

    "Do tell" I can hear Him say.  "Do tell."



    Comment (2)

    Fri, Feb 17th - 9:48AM

    Be Still



    God is our refuge and strength,
       a very present help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
       though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
    though its waters roar and foam,
       though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

     There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the holy habitation of the Most High.
    God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
       God will help her when morning dawns.
    The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
       he utters his voice, the earth melts.
    The LORD of hosts is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.  

     Come, behold the works of the LORD,
       how he has brought desolations on the earth.
    He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
       he burns the chariots with fire.
    "Be still, and know that I am God.
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth!"
    The LORD of hosts is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

    Psalm 46

     

    "You're fired."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    "You have cancer." 

    "Be still, and know that I am God."

    "I'm pregnant."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    "You're pregnant."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    "You still owe us..."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    "You're moving out, to Iraq."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    "You're being relocated to Phoenix."

    "Your pay is being cut."

    "Your wife is dying."

    "Your son is dead."

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 

    Life can throw us some pretty strange curves from time to time.  Sometimes small.  Sometimes much bigger.  All of the time stressful.  Yet through each trial He puts us through, He lovingly reminds us that He is our refuge.  He is our strength.  He is our very present help.  "Be still," He tells us, "and know that I am God."

    When circumstances frighten us, "Be still."  When trials seemingly overwhelm us, "Know that I am God."

    What circumstances do you find yourself in today?  Remember, that God knows the circumstance, knows your fear and doubt, and calls on you to see He has already overcome them all.

     

    "Be still, and know that I am God." 
                             



    Comment (3)

    Sun, Nov 6th - 9:03AM



    Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.   And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.   But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear.   But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."

    And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."   He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.   But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."   Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"   And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.   And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

     

            I remember the church business meeting that changed our lives.  Wed attended that church for all of our eight years of marriage.  Wed had two daughters in that time.  We had family, both blood and blood-bought there.  We had ministries there; my wife was the church pianist, we worked together with the college aged kids, and I taught a weekly Sunday School class and Wednesday night Bible study for them.  We had history there.  A place.

            But, as men are wont to do, disagreement filtered in.  Financial difficulty gave way to accusation, solution to argumentation, and biblical discipline to apathetic disobedience.  A biblical line had been drawn, and the majority had crossed that line.  As a result, we left that church.  Many left that church, staff included!  And on the second Sunday, meeting at a familys house large enough to fit all one hundred plus of us, our former pastor preached from this passage.  It was a message of faith.  Wed all, in a proverbial sense, stepped out of the boat.  It was an encouragement to hold to the faith wed stepped out on.  But sitting there, I got a slightly different message.

            The months prior to the split had been tenuous at best.  Id found myself trying to keep the peace, and being called upon to try.  Id been called upon to help find solutions and work towards them.  And at about every turn in the road, Id seen God working to maintain that financial burden, force that solution, and call people on their willingness to obey biblical principle and command.  Id stepped out of the boat quite awhile before, trusting God to make His will known, and giving me the grace to accept His plan.  And then the meeting made me realize just how far from the boat Id already gone. 

    We had to stick to our faith, yes, but the message I kept getting over and over again was simply, Its just the waves, man.  Its just the waves.  Id been walking on those waves, and I had to ask myself exactly how Id been able to do so.  My answer was simple.  My eyes were on Jesus.  He was my focus.  I had to hold that faith.  Its just the waves, man. And it occurred to me just how easy it is for me to lose my focus.  There were harsh words spoken by brother against brother in Christ on both sides.  Opinions had formed in the place of biblical truth.  It was very easy to slip into a mindset that focused on the peripherals, rather than on Him.

    How often do we find ourselves doing this?  Our job gets put into question, and we lose focus.  Our family has problems and we lose our focus.  Money gets tight, health gets wane, responsibilities get bigger, and life gets far more complicated than it ever was meant to be.  The bigger our problems become, the smaller our Jesus becomes in our eyes.  When we find ourselves surrounded by these distractions, it may well do us good to remind ourselves, Its just the waves.  Weve walked them before with His help.  We can walk them again by His power.

    Well, it will be two years this February since the meeting that gave me a perspective Id lacked.  Since then, my understanding of ministry has changed radically.  Programs have been replaced in my thinking with people.  Ive walked many waves, and sunk more times than I care to remember.  Each and every time it was because Id let myself focus on the problems.  And each and every time, there He was with outstretched hand, waiting to pull be back out and set me on the sure surface.

    O you of little faith He asks, Why did you doubt?

    The problems were too big for me Id say.

    Its just the waves, man.  Its just the waves.



    Comment (3)

    Fri, Oct 14th - 12:46PM

    "Oh! It's God!"



    "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

       "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
    the whole earth is full of his glory!"

           And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

           Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. 

        And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me.'" - Isaiah 6:1-8

         One Christmas Eve, when my oldest daughter was only two years old and talking up a storm, we spent the evening with my parents having our Christmas celebration.  After it was all over, and we were getting ready to go, we were sitting in their front room.  I was putting her coat on while my wife gathered our gifts and plates for the trip home. 

        My parents have this ceramic statue of Jesus on the top of their bookcase in their front room.  So here we are, trying to get going, and here she is, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.  As we're going about our business, she looks up at the statue, stops talking, then says, "Oh!  It's God."  Then she started talk, talk, talking all over again!  And we all laughed.

         Then it hit me.

         I had done this exact thing every day of my life.  I'd opened up the God-breathed words of the Bible, had seen the most beautiful picture of our awesome God painted for me in the words therein, and said, "Oh, it's God."  I'd gotten into my car and gone to work.  I'd watched the trees, and the sky.  I'd seen the storms and the snow.  I'd seen the sun shining brightly and the winds blowing.  I'd seen, and I'd said "Oh, it's God" and gone my way unchanged.  I'd seen Him and His work every single day.  And, I had said, "Oh.  It's God."

         I wonder how often each and everyone of us fall into this trap on apathy.  I wonder how much of our relationship has become common place.  Just the thing we do.  I wonder how much our relationship has turned from just that, into religious habit.  For me it took some sincere searching and alot of heartache to get out of that trap.  And I learned some things that have been of great encouragement and blessing to me ever since.

         I learned that I will never be changed until I take the time to see God.  I'd opened His word, yes, but with intent of finding me!  I wanted to know what He wanted me to change so I could work on it, fail, repent, try again, fail, and continue on this same process time and again.  I find it most interesting that this book we all love and treasure, isn't about me.  It's for me.  And it's about the God of the universe Who loves me and gave Himself for me.  You can't help as a believer, but to find conviction when you open it's pages.  But that conviction isn't changing you when you go looking for what's wrong with you.  It changes when you go looking for what's right with Him.

         I learned that the changes I'd struggled so hard to make and failed to accomplish weren't mine to begin with.  The only thing God ever asks any of us to do, is obey.  Yes, He may call you to perform a specific task.  But have you ever wondered why you succeed at the task to which you were called?  It's not your hard work.  It's not your faithful duty or attitude.  It's God Who is working in, and through you to get the job done.  I also find it interesting that God only works in us as far as we obediently follow His leading.  He will poke and prod if we refuse to go.  He may even take us by the hand, and like a Father, walk us to where He wants us to be the hard way.  But the work gets done by His power, His plan, and our obedience.

         Isaiah learned some wonderful things as well.  He saw God, and it changed him forever.  He saw his imperfection, and inabilities, and it forced him into a hopeless state.  And he saw God take his imperfection, clean it; he saw God take his inability, enable it; he saw God take him, make him usable and ultimately useful to Him for His work.  He learned that God takes the hopeless, and gives them hope. God is there, waiting to do the same for each and everyone He calls His Own.  All it takes is seeing Him.  If we take the time to draw near Him, to open His word, to open our hearts in prayerful crying out, and nail our wills to the cross in obedience to His leading, we will see Him.  And the affect will be life changing.

         My two year old is now seven.  She's known Jesus now for two whole years.  And like my Father taught me, I'm teaching her to look for Him.  Now, we find ourselves saying, "OH!  It's GOD!"

     



    Comment (6)


    About Me

    Name: Kevin Kraus
    ChristiansUnite ID: simplelife96
    Member Since: 2005-10-10
    Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
    Denomination: Bible Church
    About Me: I'm a sinner saved by grace, adopted child and co-heir, husband, father of 2 and future ruler. :]

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