Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Hiding Place

It never ceases to blow my mind how the Lord beats the Truth of His Word and who He is into my life. Here's the passage that has really been a reality in my life:

(Jesus speaking) "I have told you [my teachings to you], so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

There are 2 noteworthy things from this verse that I've been focusing on:
1. Trouble is coming. We will all face difficulties in life. Maybe you're in the middle of those difficulties right now. Maybe you're just coming out of difficulties. The reality of this moment, is that wherever you stand in relation to trouble, there will be more trouble coming. Trouble, the faith shattering events that in the moment seem too big to process or handle, is coming.
2. IN CHRIST we may have peace. Why? He overcame the world! He has been through earthly trouble, and he has overcome! What exciting news for us as believers!? In the midst of the most difficult times in our lives, we can find a treasure, a hiding place, and take refuge in Christ through our relationship with the One who has overcome: Jesus Christ.

So thankful...

I have been in the midst of a hurricane of thought lately. Not all of my thoughts necessarily revolve around negative things, but I feel like it is a hurricane nonetheless. Here are the abridged lyrics to a song that has been communicating the truth of John 16:33 to me:

"I will exalt You...You are my God!
Because You're with me...I will not fear!

My hiding place, my safe refuge, my treasure, Lord, You are!
My friend and King, anointed One, most holy!"

I am so desperately thankful that the Lord is my place to hide for the trouble of life. Jesus is my safe refuge to escape the discouragement of the enemy. Jesus reminds me that He is my treasure in this life and for my eternity. Now this doesn't mean my circumstances just automatically disappear or simply vanish. What does it mean? It means in Christ (my hiding place, my refuge, my treasure), I have peace. Peace in the storm. Contentment in trusting the Lord's plan. Faith that God is still bigger, still victorious and still in control. I have completely been hiding out in the Lord lately, and the peace He has provided has been so needed.

What about you? Have you been able to experience Jesus as your hiding place? He wants to be your safe refuge. I pray that you will or have experienced Him in this way.

I got much love for you...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Put Your Clothes On or Dress For Work!

I must confess that at the idea of this post, the first thought that popped into my mind was when one my best friends, Allen Tate, busted my brother making his then daily nude streak from the bathroom to his bedroom to get dressed for the day. Andrew's response in the moment, was to pause for a moment in the run and simply say, "AH!", and then proceeded into his room. This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, other than Andrew should have put his clothes on! (freebie)

My journey with the Lord this semester has been an exciting one to say the least. I completely and totally feel like I have been in a whirlwind of thought processes, some good circumstances and some bad. The cool part about being in this hurricane of life is that the Lord got me ready for it just before it happened. Here's the quick story:

I got back down to seminary to begin this semester and begin to really press into the Lord about where He was leading me upon my graduation in December. I felt like I was getting no answer. No specifics. No leanings. Nothing. This was mildly frustrating because I wanted to be preparing. I wanted to start making plans. I wanted to be in control. (Take notice of how me-centric those sentences are!) I decided I would begin reading through Jeremiah. It was in the first chapter that the Lord communicated what He wanted from me for this stage of my life.

In Jeremiah 1, we find Jeremiah trying to discern his call from God. God reveals to J that His desire is that J become a prophet. J's response? "Ah!" He begins the reasons why that can't be his call: he can't speak, he's a youth...blah blah blah. J wasn't sure that God had dialed up the right man in that moment. In Jeremiah's discovery of his call, the Lord said this to him as Jeremiah waited for things to begin to happen:

"But you, DRESS YOURSELF FOR WORK. Arise, and say to them everything I command you. Don't be dismayed." The Lord goes on to let Jeremiah know that He's in control and concludes with, "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you." (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

How cool is that moment? The Lord let's J know that everything is going to be alright because the Lord's got J's back. Did you catch the thing the Lord asked Jeremiah to do? Put your clothes on J! Dress for work! God asked Jeremiah to get ready because through Him, Jeremiah was going to DO WORK for God's glory! So what does this mean for me and you? It means that whether you're in 'go mode', or you're waiting for the Lord's clarity, dress yourself for work! Be ready! Be in the Word. Be in prayer. The Lord's going to do work through His people, and if you're ready, you're usable! Put your work clothes on!

Now that I'm in the middle of the "hurricane" and "chaos" of a million things running through my brain, I realize why I had moments where I was struggling to find where God wanted me. He wanted me to continue preparing myself for the time when my work was to come. What about you? Are you dressed for work? Or are you experiencing frustration or confusion about what is next? Follow the Lord's advice to Jeremiah and myself: Put your clothes on! Dress yourself for work! ...cause it is coming!

I got much love for you...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What I Learned at Camp #3: I'm a Sinner

For the final installment of the "What I Learned at Camp" Series (keep in mind, this is certainly NOT everything I learned at camp, just the Big 3), I would like to focus on my reminder of how ugly my heart really is.

After my team's 2nd week of camp, we had an opportunity to do a little staff worship on the weekend, which I would say that staff worship was something the majority of the people on the team LOVED having the opportunity to do. Well this particular staff worship our staff was focusing on how far the Lord had to reach to redeem us and adopt us into His family because of the separation all of our individual sin had caused. I shared, during the beginning part of worship, Psalm 51. This is David's Psalm of lament/repentance after the whole Bathsheba fiasco. From that point forward, my prayer for myself was that God would create and continue to develop a "pure heart and...a steadfast spirit within me." I no longer wanted to have a complacent attitude toward sin, including the "small, not-that-big-of-a-deal sins". So I begged the Lord to take me to that place by His grace.

Well the Lord surely began to work in my life and bring to the forefront of my being the reality that I very much am a sinner. I very much engaged in the very things God calls me not to, whether deliberately or without recognition, and I engaged in a plethora of these things regularly...much to my chagrin. There was one incident in particular that really shook me up though, and this was a lesson that a church group leader helped teach me. I'm fairly certain her intent was not to teach me this lesson, instead just to complain about any and everything that came her way this particular week of camp. But she taught me nonetheless.

She went right after the heart of that camp pastor. How could anyone want to criticize someone who looks like that when he is preaching the Word? (shout out to my teammate Collin Spindle for taking such a horrific shot of me) But she criticized the very core of my heartbeat behind proclaiming the Gospel. What was my reaction? Well of course it was to love and forgive her and forget about it! Except...that's not at all what happened. I began to look inside my heart and realized how filthy it was. The Lord brought the fullness of how sinful my heart was to my mind in that moment. And I was rocked to the core. I was a pastor for crying out loud*! I'm not supposed to be sinful! (*NOTE: EXTREME SARCASM)

Here's what I learned: the Lord reached a long way into the pit of sin and selfishness to rescue me from the wrath that was due Tyler Crosson because of the sin in my life. Why does that matter? Well it was the full recognition that I MUST live my life in way that A)reflects the fact that the Lord has reached that far in my life for my rescue and B) reflects the fact that if the Lord is willing to reach that far for this kid, He's willing to do it for anybody else that desires to make Him the boss of their life, in light of what Jesus did on the cross. What about you? Have you allowed the Lord to rescue you? Have you recognized the depth of how far He stooped to pull YOU and ME out of the pit?

Or how about this: I do all the talking on this blog. Why don't YOU tell me something the Lord has been teaching YOU of late. You know I've got much love for you...