Desires of the Heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)

The following thought-provoking questions are shared from a page on Facebook called Shareable Truth (August 25, 2017).  I gained a new perspective on this frequently cited and often misunderstood passage in the Bible.

 

 

 

  • Delight yourself in the Lord, SO that he will give you the desires of  your heart?  NO
  • Delight yourself in the Lord, IF he gives you the desires of your heart?  NO
  • Delight yourself in the Lord, IF he gives you the objects of your desire?  NO
  • Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will put HIS desires in your heart”? YES, and he will fulfill each one of them in His perfect time.

Many seem to think that Psalm 37:4 means that God will give us everything that we ask for; a job prayed for, a bigger house, a new car, or perhaps a husband or a wife. Sometimes he does give us our desires, but that is not always true. Sometimes we are sorely disappointed when God seemingly turns a silent ear. You might ponder then, if God is supposed to give me the desires of my heart, then why was I passed by for promotion, or why am I still single?  We often then become very introspective and frequently find blame when things don’t turn out as expected (desired).  “Have I not delighted in you Lord?”  “Did I do something wrong?” The answer, however, may be simply, your longings were never His will nor His desire to start with. But that is also not to say that your longings are not His desire, or that He will not give you the desires of your heart. Your longings may just not have been fulfilled yet according to His perfect timing and perfect will. Lord, help me to accept your will.

Let’s take a closer look at this verse. First, it says that we are to delight ourselves in the Lord. Taking delight in the Lord means that we find peace and fulfillment in the Lord, and we take pleasure in Him.  But it doesn’t mean that if we go to church every Sunday that God will give us that big house you’ve always dreamed of having, or that beautiful red Lamborgini.

Secondly, it says He will give you the desires of your heart. Many delight in temporal things, wealth, status, and material things of this world, but outside of God’s will, it is futile to think that we will ever achieve complete satisfaction and joy from those things. This is the bane of our worldly existence. However, when we commit our future to the Lord and trust in Him, He replaces our desires with His desires, his majesty, glory, and love so that we want nothing else. Have you first asked God what his desires are for you?

So here are some steps for satisfying every desire of your heart in Himself (not in myself).

  • Confess your sins
  • Turn from yourself to trusting in Him to change your heart. Your relationship is not just your knowledge of Him, but rather one of trust and intimacy.
  • Pray earnestly. Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (NAS).
  • Meditate on God’s Word so that He might be revealed through it. In other words, HEAR God. Don’t just read God’s word as a cerebral exercise to gain more head knowledge. Meditate to know Him more intimately and hear His voice. Close your mind to the incessant noise of “I want; I want; I want” reverberating through your head. Take several quiet minutes and just listen. Push all thoughts of “I want” from your mind and ask God to show you His will. In this, you will succeed in delighting in God, and you will be satisfied and filled with joy.
  • Wait on the Lord. Wait patiently for God’s promises because he will not disappoint those who seek him with all their heart.  “It won’t be a lie. If it’s delayed, wait for it. It will certainly happen. It won’t be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3, GOD’S WORD Translation).
  • Take God at His word. In Jeremiah 29:11-14 it says that God knows the plans he has for you, plans for well-being and not calamity, plans to give you a future filled with hope.  And when you call upon Him, it says that he will listen to you. And if you seek Him with all your heart, you will find him because HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL (https://youtu.be/kmGB8568VwU).

And so, when you delight yourself in the Lord, and you own His desires as your desires, “He will give you the longings of your heart,” and you will be so satisfied in the Lord, that you will delight in nothing else, for His desires are our desires. That’s what I want. Having that translates as inexpressible and glorious joy and a life of contentment.

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?

 

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:26)

Excerpts herein are from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest for August 12, The Theology of Rest.

“When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God.”  Even though God expects us to come to him in confidence when we pray, “our trust is in God only up to a certain point, and then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him … He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.”

We can relate to Jesus’ disciples also to whom he said “O ye of little faith!”.  “What a pang must have shot through the disciples – ‘Missed it again!’”

When there are no storms or crises in my life, I can be on top of the world, but when disappointments or crises come, I must consciously keep my focus on Christ so that I remain steadfast in Him. Otherwise, I succumb to my storms and sink below the waves.

Have you ever ridden a wave?  I’ve never surfed, but I’ve watched surfers mount their surfboards and ride the wave.  If they are experienced, they will ride the wave all the way into shore; if they are just learning to ride the wave, they will often fall, get back up and try again.  Such is the Christian life.

God’s promises are like the crest of the wave. When I trust in God and believe in His promises, God makes it possible for me to stay atop the biggest waves, even though there is a powerhouse of energy under me that can pull me down. In Isaiah 43:2-3 it says “When you go through the sea, I’ll be there with you … for I am the Lord your God.”

Oswald Chambers also stated that “If we have been learning to worship God and to trust in Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”  So as a surfer stays tethered to his surfboard at the ankle by a cord so that he does not lose sight of his surfboard, a Christian’s stays tethered by a combination of things so that he does not lose sight of God.

Well, you ask – how can I do that in an awful situation?  Here are some points to apply to your life when you incessantly worry about a bad situation, or you can’t fall asleep at night.

  • Force yourself to think about God instead of your situation. “Whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
  • In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).
  • Fellowship with other believers.
  • Rejoice always in the Lord (Philippians 4:4)

It’s a battle for your will, but if you force yourself to change how you think about things (Philippians 4:9), “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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I’ll be happy when ….


(“Isolation” short video)

Unhappiness is a condition that affects many Americans at one point or another, and isolation often a byproduct.

The short film entitled “Isolation”  (click image link above), cleverly produced, directed and acted by Joe Narciso as part of a sermon series created by Renaissance Church in Summit, New Jersey served as the segue to the message “9 Habits of the Chronically Unhappy and the Biblical Steps Towards Joy”.  You can listen to the podcast message by clicking RenChurch link (then find topic “Habit 3: Isolation”, dated 01.22.17). In this segue video to the message,  Joe portrays a chronically unhappy person, who isolated from the world, sits home on his sofa sulking and watching re-runs of “The Golden Girls” on TV.   I don’t know what Joe’s obsession was, but if you are telling yourself “I’ll be happy only when …..”, then you will never be happy.

Joe, however, would eventually shed his protective shield that kept everyone at a distance, having learned that prayer works, and there is strength in being around others. 

Oh, sure, I also have been dealt circumstances in life that I’ve obsessed about. I have had my share of unhappiness, the doldrums, feeling sorry for myself, or wishing I were someone else, or concentrating on what’s wrong in life versus what’s right, or considering my future with worry or fear.  And I also had felt the isolation of withdrawing into myself, of not seeking others when I needed to be with people.

So, how do we get out of this endless cycle of negativity and isolation?  Because of the power of the unconscious mind, I find it difficult to overcome my feelings and emotions sometimes. “It takes a lot more than just positive thinking to get out of it.  Because as soon as you forget to be conscious, the unconscious is back in charge again.  Sound familiar”?[1]

Whatever your situation, whatever your unhappiness, whatever your reason for isolation, whatever your dissatisfaction with life, whether it be self-esteem, your job, your spouse, etc., rather than begrudge these things, first choose to look in the mirror and focus on “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ISV).  The Bible teaches that we are changed by the things we dwell on. Believers in Christ who behold in the mirror, or who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Lastly, we must make a conscious effort to seek the fellowship of others, for this is God’s good and right design, and for your effort he says, He will bestow his blessing on you, and we will thrive again.  Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

RELATED ARTICLE: “For As He Thinks Within Himself, So He Is

                                                                 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE: [1] http://www.lifetrainings.com/Your-unconscious-mind-is-running-you-life.html, It’s now a proven fact – Your unconscious mind is running your life!

Due to a lack of patience, tomorrow is cancelled

don-sharp39-t-stress-trust-god-sharp39-s-timing-inspirations-and-take-life-one-day-at-a-time-one-task-at-a-time

When has your tomorrow become today because you just couldn’t wait?  Stress can do that to you. Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now.

As an example, there is nothing wrong with companies selling more and faster, but often mistakes are made when they do not weigh the risks of a faster turnaround against releasing a product on schedule.  I recall a time when my company couldn’t wait for tomorrow and nearly cost our customer hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales due to a reckless and hasty decision. It was as the cliché goes – “egg on your face”.

I was the Quality Assurance Manager of that small software company.  I was always thorough in testing a product for release, but sometimes there was the pressure to make a product release sooner than the planned release date. Best case scenario was that we would just have to work longer hours and weekends to get the job done, but it would be at least tested. The worst case scenario case was that we would release a product that was not thoroughly tested, and that could bring the customer’s systems to a crashing halt, as in the following case.

Worst case scenario – I received an urgent call from our customer when I came into work one morning. Unbeknownst to me, a software enhancement request had been fast-tracked “out the door” for a minor bug fix, sooner than the next planned release date. I was not kept in the loop, and as it was prematurely released without my knowledge of or testing of it, I was in a quandary as to why their computer systems were down.

Stress levels, as you can imagine, were very high, so I logged on remotely to the customer’s database to diagnose the reason for the system crash.  My mind was whirling. Was it my fault that their systems were down?  It had also crossed my mind that it may not have been my fault, which perhaps the customer had not provided me with a complete set of test data for running successful tests in-house. In either case, we would have to work overtime until the problem was fixed.

After testing remotely, I could not reproduce the reported problem.  “What release are you running?” I asked.  They replied, “product release 51”.  “No, that cannot be correct. Please check again”.  The customer checked again, and repeated, “Release 51”.  Again I thought, that could not be correct.  “Your last product release was 50”.

Because of the dire emergency of their systems being down, I now had to escalate the problem and involve our Vice President.  Seemingly embarrassed, he said, “Oh, I released the product to them last night. I didn’t think that a simple bug fix would be a problem. ”

Fortunately, we were able to back out the bad release and restore the last good release so that the customer’s system was back up and running.

Whatever the negatives of not having a new product release over having an emergency release, a risk assessment should have been made to decide if the risk of releasing it sooner outweighed the risk of having it later.

“What good has impatience ever brought? It has only served as the mother of mistakes and the father of irritation.” ― Steve Maraboli

Similarly, when we are tossed and perplexed with doubts about what God is doing in our lives, we must watch against the temptation to be impatient.  When we have poured out our requests to God over and over, stop to listen to his word and spirit about what he should say to us, for much trouble in life is because we don’t wait upon God to answer our hurry up prayers. In turn, we fail to receive God’s blessing because we are not moving forward with Him.  

Don’t try to control destiny by making tomorrow happen today. “If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.” (Habakkuk 2:3, NLT).

 

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

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I would have despaired unless I believed

Psalm 27-13

I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. (Psalm 27:13-14)

The psalmist David is easy to identify with. In Psalm 27 he wrote “I really would have given up had I not believed that God is good”. Isn’t it true that most of us would despair also were it not for God who comes to our rescue? Look at the faintheartedness of David: wicked people, enemies, war, trouble, loneliness, and being forsaken, false accusations, and cruelty.  I am sure that all of us at times have experienced some of these, and probably can add a few more to the list. A focus such as David’s can also keep us from going to pieces!

Yet, how many of us actually hold on to our troubles and do not wait on the Lord? We allow our worries to stew within us, to go around and around in our heads until we feel choked and strangled by them, yet repeatedly, the Bible tells us not to despair, worry or be anxious.  You say, “Well I’m just a worrier. It is in my DNA makeup”. You even worry about nothing at times.

A psychologist, speaking to an audience, used an interesting analogy using a glass of water to make a point about managing stress and worry. Everyone was probably thinking “Oh no, not the half empty, half full glass analogy again”. But as she raised the glass, she asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?” The weight really didn’t matter. “It depends on how long you hold it”, she said.  If you hold it for an hour, the glass will appear heavier, and your arm will start to ache. If you hold on to it for a day, you will begin to feel numb and paralyzed in your arm. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer you hold on to it, the heavier it becomes. The stresses of life are kind of like the glass of water. The longer you hold on to your negative thoughts and worries, the more fainthearted we get. After a while we can even become paralyzed, and incapable of functioning.

Surmounting opposition and negativity, and not to despair, is difficult at times. I am constantly reminded to “be anxious for nothing, and to fear not”. Still, allowing my mind to be captive to negative thoughts causes me to go around and around again in my head, and I worry. Sometimes I am incapable of hearing God, hearing only the noise in my head that says “if this were someone else, they’d sure be worried, so you should be also. Or if I don’t make ends meet this month, I am not going to be able to pay my bills. Then what? … What if I don’t have this or that?  How could I ever be happy again?”

But if we are to ever surmount our faintheartedness and worries, we need to discipline ourselves to earnestly seek God, and practice waiting on Him. Those are times when I must go to God and just say “I give it up to you, Father. I am helpless to know what to do. Take this situation from me and make it yours”. “Turn your burdens over to the LORD, and he will take care of you (Psalm 55:22, GOD’S WORD translation).

“Once we have made up our minds that God’s goodness is in operation, we will have far less difficulty in coping with the events of everyday life. Since He is in control, and since He is a good God, we can relax in His care. The Prophet Isaiah said, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee’ (Isa. 26:3). The way to become convinced of God’s goodness is to spend time with Him. ‘Wait on the Lord . . . and He shall strengthen thine heart.’ Get alone with God, and you’ll get over your fainting spell!” [1].

WAIT FOR THE LORD

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

 

FOOTNOTE

[1] Walk with the King, Daily e-Devotional, April 14

 

For as he thinks within himself, so he is

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Portrait75cWhen I was a very small boy, I wanted to be “Davy Crockett”. I was so captivated by the person of Davy Crockett, that I would not only look forward to watching the Walt Disney television series about him with Fess Parker in the leading role, but I would also dress up like him and act out the role as a child.  I can also remember my Dad taking me down to our local record shop and buying me the hit single, the Ballad of Davy Crockett” “Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.”

One day, my grandfather, who was a barber, asked me, “Billy, do you want me to cut your hair so that you look like Davy Crockett with a raccoon tail?”  Of course, he was only kidding, but I don’t know if at the time I thought he was kidding as I was only 5 or 6 years old, and very gullible. Everyone thought, I am sure, that that was adorable, but as we mature into adults, many of us today, because of dissatisfaction with who we are, also dwell on and cast ourselves in roles that are not particularly suited to us.

The notion that we are what we eat or that which we dwell on is portrayed humorously in the following conversation between Basil, a middle class English writer, and Zorba, a Greek peasant, from the book “Zorba the Greek”.   The phrase you are what you eat, however, is not to be taken literally herein, but rather connotes, what the mind ingests has a bearing on one’s state of mind.

(Zorba) “Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I’m told, into God. So there must be three sorts of men. I’m not one of the worst, boss, nor yet one of the best. I’m somewhere in between the two. What I eat I turn into work and good humor. That’s not too bad, after all!’

(Basil) He looked at me wickedly and started laughing.

(Zorba) As for you, boss, he said, ‘I think you do your level best to turn what you eat into God. But you can’t quite manage it, and that torments you. The same thing’s happening to you as happened to the crow.’

(Basil) ‘What happened to the crow, Zorba?’

(Zorba) ‘Well, you see, he used to walk respectably, properly – well, like a crow. But one day he got it into his head to try and strut about like a pigeon. And from that time on the poor fellow couldn’t for the life of him recall his own way of walking. He was all mixed up, don’t you see? He just hobbled about.”
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

How many of us are dissatisfied with who we are and our circumstances, and also try our level best to change things but can’t quite manage it?  Because discontent lurks in every person’s heart, we oftentimes try to change who we are, our God given talents, brains and physical appearance, and also our situations, and sometimes it is at grave cost.  Unfortunately, many of us who look in the mirror and wish we were someone else, end up tormented like the crow, and hobble about, all mixed up.

But don’t misunderstand me.  There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be something or wanting to change our circumstances for the better, just as long as it is a realistic possibility and ordained of God for me as a person.  Regardless of who I am and my circumstances, the Bible teaches that I should be content.  In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul learned to be content in whatever his circumstances and even with his physical infirmity for he says “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Note: the secret of Paul’s strength was not in himself, but in knowing that Jesus Christ was the source of his strength.  Paul was content because Jesus was his all sufficiency.

Whatever your situation, whatever your dissatisfaction with life, whether it be self-esteem, your job, your spouse, etc., ratC.-S.-Lewis-Believe-Quotes-1her than begrudge these things and wish you were someone else, choose to look in the mirror and focus on “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ISV).  The Bible teaches that we are changed by the things we behold or that which we dwell on. “We are what we believe we are” – C.S. Lewis.  Similarly, believers in Christ who behold in the mirror, or who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

and he will lift you up

When I was in junior high school, I used to go over to my cousin’s house often. I looked up to my cousin Marty who was several years older than me. I loved my cousin. We would sit up in his room calling on his HAM radio anyone who would answer.
“Breaker, Breaker good buddy … are you out there?”
Unfortunately, I don’t think that all were good buddies.

As I entered high school, I did not see Marty as often. Marty was in some type of trouble and had been thrown from a moving vehicle out on to the highway. He would receive multiple injuries, and although God was eager to rescue his life, Marty was spiritually bankrupt. Marty was in with the wrong crowd and had become a heroin addict. It should have been a wake up call for him.

Years later, I ran into Marty just outside of the Port of Authority bus terminal. This was the first time that I would run into him after quite awhile. He was in a feeble state, and was begging on the streets of New York City. We would talk briefly, he would ask me for some money, and then move on. It was heart-wrenching to see him this way.

The second time that I ran into Marty, we were both crossing at an intersection at Broadway and …, but this time we had no words with each other as he quickly turned away from me, ashamed. I recall that he looked gaunt and many of his teeth were missing now. That was the last time I heard of or saw my cousin, until he was featured on the CBS 60-Minutes News Hour with Harry Reasoner about panhandlers. Marty would later be incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison, where he would spend the rest of his life and die.

As a heroin addict, I learned from my aunt that Marty would check himself into and out of rehab centers, yet always return to his addiction after being released. Only if Marty had cried out to God to pick him up and help him get his feet back on the ground might he have been spared his sad fate. And yet a parallel can also be made to a believer’s life who refuses to allow God’s Word to penetrate their heart, who repeatedly asks God for forgiveness, but always returns to their sin.

How many of us wholeheartedly devote ourselves to the Lord God in all His ways? For most believers, it is so easy to get distracted and forget to cast our cares upon the Lord, especially “when all is well with me”. This was the psalmist David’s sentiments in Psalm 30. But, oh, how we wish that we might be lifted up from our mind’s distractions and the torture of unbelief when things are not going well; don’t we? David is not an exception.

Most of us will admit that we have all fallen from time to time just as David had. And perhaps many of us also keep coming back to God (maybe too many times), asking for God’s forgiveness, and that He might lift us up. But is it an earnest prayer, one that is wholeheartedly felt, a prayer of confession that we truly need God? Or is it like Marty who was in and out of rehab, only to return repeatedly to his sin of addiction? We all have addictions of some kind or another. Sin takes on many forms. Perhaps your sin is unbelief, or pride, or manipulation, or substance abuse or a sexual integrity addiction, or anger, or something else. Have you asked God to forgive you your sins and lift you up? Don’t be one whom God turns his face from.

The song Pick Me Up (composed by Bill Hutzel and John D’Elia, 2014) was inspired by Psalm 30, but can also find inspiration from Psalm 71:20 and James 4:10. So often we fancy ourselves as secure, and we think we can go it all alone. But when God hides His face from me because I choose to go it on my own, my soul cries out to Him to “Pick Me Up, and turn me around … Lord set me free, for I’ve been going it on my own, now it’s time for me to come home, Help me get my feet back on the ground.”

The psalmist David had a propensity for going it on his own, for he said “When all was well with me, I said, I will never be moved”. In Psalm 30:6-12 it says that David then asked for God’s mercy as he was shaken because God turned his face from him. God being compassionate, then lifts David from his troubles, turns his crying into dancing, and establishes his feet with joy on God’s firm foundation again.

But how do we go about picking ourselves up or restoring our relationship with God? James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up”. To humble yourself means to be subservient and wholeheartedly devoted to God.   “and he shall lift you up; this is God’s way of lifting up those who seek Him in all things – Over time, as we mature in Christ, we find God lifting us up more frequently, and consequently changing us so that we become more like Christ. He draws us nearer to Him, and as a result we grow in faith and wisdom, better able to overcome our limited expectations of ourselves for overcoming sin in our lives. He delivers us from our old ways; He comforts us as we sing our praise to Him alone and raise our voice up to His throne, our arms outstretched to His delight, stars shimmering in His reflected light; He gives us a place with Him in eternity.

The song Pick Me Up is a prayer of confession that we need God to lift us up and deliver us – “Oh Lord, set me free”. It is a song of confession to God that we have all gone it on our own. “Now it’s time for me to come home, Help me get my feet back on the ground”.

God is eager to rescue us just as He was eager to deliver King David; just as He was eager to deliver Marty, although Marty was unaccepting of God’s help and mercy. He is eager to help us live successful and victorious lives. He wants us to draw near to Him so that we can know Him better and love Him more, and so that we might be empowered with with His Holy Spirit to do what is right, live in faith and do good works (Romans 7:18, Ephesians 2:4-10). Will we allow God to lift us up?

(Pick Me Up song lyrics)
Oh stand by me
Oh Lord, set me free
Oh I
’ve been goin’ it on my own
Now it
’s time for me to come home
Help me get my feet back on the ground

Pick me up and turn me around,
Jesus make a change in my life,
Pick me up and don
’t put me down,
Jesus make a change in my life.

Sing my praise to You alone
Raise my voice up to Your throne
My arms outstretched to Your delight
Stars shimmering in Your reflected light.

Oh stand by me
Oh Lord, set me free
Oh I
’ve been goin’ it on my own
Now it
’s time for me to come home
Help me get my feet back on the ground.

Pick me up and turn me around,
Jesus make a change in my life,
Pick me up, don
’t put me down
Jesus make a change in my life
.

If I’m up or if I down
Sing Hallelujah, we all bow down,
Let Your light, shine in me now,
Empower me with Your Spirit now.

Copyright 2015 by Bill Hutzel

 

 

Does God marvel at you?

Sea glassFor I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name).” – Isaiah 51:15 NAS. This is the God Almighty, all powerful, the great “I Am”.

Life is like the sea and the waves – sometimes calm and sometimes turbulent, but always changing, changing things that once were discarded and worthless into things of refined beauty.

I used to love walking on the beach in Bay Head, New Jersey in the early morning when the sun was just coming up in the east. Listening to the waves roll in and looking for sea glass was a pastime of mine since I was a little boy. Even when I go to the ocean now in my later years, this is one of my favorite things to do. I would fill my pockets with different colored sea glass that had been furbished by the sea –frosted blues, aquamarines, pinks, reds, browns, whites, and greens.   Oh, what joy that was! And then I would spread out the sea glass on a table when I got home and would sort them by color and fill a jar with them to marvel at.

Sea glass comes from broken shards of bottles and jars that were discarded. Broken, the sea then tumbles and polishes them and removes the rough and jagged edges until each piece is smooth. So, broken and fragile, we too like sea glass are refined, “though not as silver, we are tested in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). For my own sake, for my own sake, saith the Lord.

Jagged edges soften and get rounder, a protective coating envelops that which was once discarded and worthless – transformed by time, washed ashore, a thing of beauty now.

Does God marvel at you? Are you recognized by the deeds of your flesh, as pieces of jagged glass, or are you evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in you to crucify your flesh and refine you? Are you the evidence of God’s waves, that of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Are you in your inner spirit, swashed about by God’s waves, a thing of unfading beauty now, that of a gentle spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight?

Copyright 2015 by Bill Hutzel

 

The Fumble

The Fumble

Click on image to see live action play

Ever had that “uh-oh” moment, that sinking feeling? We all make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes lose games, so to speak. In our minds and hearts we often know what the right thing to do is because God speaks to us through our minds and hearts; but sometimes, our stubbornness, our self-sufficiency and self-reliance get in the way and cause us to listen to a contrarian voice. It’s “my way or the highway”. How many times have I made things worse because “I did it my way” or because I did not heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit or my heart?

It wasn’t just any fumble, it was “The Fumble”. There are only certain words that can describe the jaw-dropping sinking feeling that I felt when the ball was fumbled: anger, shock, despair, and disappointment. In a football game that will go down in history as one of seismic proportion was the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, 1978. I was watching the game. The Giants were leading 17-12. All they had to do was take one more snap and kneel with the ball, and the clock would run out. It would be a huge upset over the Philadelphia Eagles that would put the Giants in a possible playoff picture if they won.

With 30 seconds to go in the game, Joe Pisarcik called the snap.
“Brown right, near wing, 65 slant!”
Pisarcik took the snap and went to hand it off to fullback Larry Csonka.

So, as the credits rolled on the television broadcasting system and Giants fans streamed out of the stadium with a seemingly sure 17-12 win, the unthinkable happened.

What was Coach Joe Gibson thinking when he called that play? The playbooks would say to just kneel and run out the clock. Logic would say don’t flirt with disaster. Even a Football 101 Guide for Beginners would say to take the knee and run out the clock. But contrary to logical thinking and common sense, right reasoning did not win out.

Sadly to say, the Giants did not win the game and would not have a chance at earning a berth in the playoffs. The play called for fullback Larry Csonka to take a handoff from quarterback Joe Pisarcik and run it in for a touchdown, but the play was botched with Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards picking up the loose ball and running it in for an Eagles touchdown instead. If quarterback Joe Pisarcik had only taken a knee, the Giants would have won the game.

Instead of jubilant celebration, there was a mood of despair and a sickening feeling that prevailed over the Giants and their fans. Angry Giants fans demanded that someone be held responsible for this debacle. Needless to say, Coach Joe Gibson was fired the next day. The “I did it my way” reasoning would have severe and lasting impact. So great was the stigma attached to this one decision that Joe Gibson made, that he would never work at any level of football again.

The play will always be remembered by the Giants as “The Fumble”. To this day, Joe Pisarcik is still asked about it. Joe is quoted as saying 35-years later, by Mark Di Ionno, columnist for the New Jersey Star Ledger, “People come up to me and actually say, ‘Hey, do you remember that play…?’ I feel like saying, ‘No, I’m only reminded of it 89 times day.”

Could Joe have reversed Joe Gibson’s play call? Well, what people don’t know, is that a couple of weeks before, Joe Pisarcik did change one of Coach Gibson’s plays and was severely reprimanded for it. According to Mark Di Ionno, Coach Gibson screamed at Pisarcik, “Don’t ever change a play I send in, ever again! Pisarcik said. So when the (fumble) play came in, the guys in the huddle were like, ‘Joe, don’t do it. Just fall on the ball.’ I said, ‘No way, I’m not going to get yelled at again.’”  Final score: 19-17, Eagles over Giants. Joe Pisarcik’s legacy would be sealed in stone forever.

All of us have fumbled at one time or another. I can personally relate to this. For me: All I needed to do was apologize, but instead, I had to argue and defend myself. All I needed to do was listen, but instead, I had to open my big fat mouth. All I needed to do was be patient, but instead I rushed into a situation before planning and as a result, the outcome was less than desirable or even disastrous; all because I had to do it myself without listening to or hearing from God.

One thing that we can learn from our “uh-ohs” is to do it God’s way the next time.  And when we do it His way, we will always come out the winner, for if Christ lives within us and we are in tune with His Holy Spirit, we will be victorious.

Romans 8:5-17; Ephesians 3:16-19

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be sensitive to the promptings of your Holy Spirit in matters of my heart and in making daily decisions. Help me to do it “Your Way”.

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

 

REFERENCE:
Mark Di Ionno, “35 years later, ex-Giant Pisarcik takes The Miracle at the Meadowlands in stride”, December 23, 2013, http://blog.nj.com/njv_mark_diionno/2013/12/35_years_later_nfls_pisarcik_t.html

RELATED:
My Way or God’s Way post …

http://inspirationandhope.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/my-way-or-gods-way/

 

My Way or God’s Way

Gods Way or My Way When you feel stressed or encounter difficulties, do you let those stresses and difficulties alert you to your need for God, or are you quick to solve them yourself?

One Saturday morning during a Pause Ministry men’s meeting and breakfast, a title on the book shelf caught my eye. It was “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual”. Of course, this was a complete guide to fixing and maintaining anything and everything around your home. But it made me ask the question, “How many of us have that Do-it-yourself mentality when it comes to fixing that which is broken in our inner self? How many of us are quick to give advice or solve a problem before hearing God on a matter? How many of us do it “My Way” and not God’s way?

Some trivia – In 1968, Frank Sinatra recorded a song entitled “My Way”. It was also the title of a record album, for those of us who remember record players, and a song that hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It became so popular that, just to name a few of the dozens of artists who recorded it, there was Elvis Presley, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Andy Williams, Gipsy Kings, David Bowie, and U2. The Three Tenors performed the song on July 22, 1996 during their concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey at Giants Stadium. The version by Elvis Presley even went Gold in the U.S with over 1,000,000 recordings sold.

And now, the end is hereMy Way Frank Sinatra
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

We are in a world today that stresses self-sufficiency. You can find almost any type of self-help literature for fixing things, but so few of us go to God first. Although self-sufficiency is acclaimed in our society, the “I can fix it myself” mindset does not bring the peace of God, nor does it bring abundant living in Christ.

Just out of curiosity, I did a Google search with the keywords “I can fix it myself”. The query returned a number of self-help book titles such as You Can Heal Yourself, or You Can Heal Your Life, and other mind over matter titles. All were definitive guides to managing our own spirituality and energy without God. Many of these titles can also be found by querying the keyword “spirituality”.  Spirituality, according to one definition, is the “progressive unlearning of the strange ideas about God you’ve been taught…”.

Another definition of spirituality and in a Biblical context, the term means being animated by God (Waaijman, 2000), to be driven by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to a life which rejects this influence (Wong, 2009).   Such spirituality emphasizes dependence on God. For those it is the belief that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us, we will be fruitful and productive and at peace in Him, for apart from His Way we can do nothing (see John 15:5). God did not instruct us to deliver ourselves from our stresses and difficulties and our brokenness. Rather it is God on whom we should set our hope, whom we should rely. It is He who will deliver us (2 Corinthians 1:10).

We are a society that is emotionally driven. Our decisions are a mix of our feelings and of our thinking, and because we are human, we are this way. “The mind is the most restless, unruly part of mankind” (April 21, “Jesus Calling”). The Bible, however, teaches that successful resolution of problems and difficulties is not the product of self-dependence, but instead the product of surrendering our difficulties to God, and by being grounded in biblical principles.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to come to you daily for deliverance from all my cares and worries, fears, and sorrows. Help me to rely on You for answers to life’s problems. Help me to do it “Your Way”.

 

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel