Oil or Sand?

In undergrad I was a part of an organization called Christian Medial and Dental Association or CMDA. One of our speakers was a local doctor and former missionary. Something he said stuck with me. 
"You can either be the oil in the gears that help everything run smoothly and efficiently—or you can be sand in the gears that create friction and grind everything to a halt."

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18(ESV)
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, 
but also to the interests of others. 
Philippians 2:4(ESV)

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
Luke 6:31(ESV)
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
Galatians 5:14 (ESV)


Choppy Water—Leonce Crump

Choppy Water—Leonce Crump

John 6:16-21

“...at all times people are either stepping into, in the midst of, or coming out of some type of trial." —Dr. Mason

1. Practice pursuing the presence of Jesus. 

This is not a sports analogy. I'm not talking about practice making perfect. I'm not talking about trying harder and doing more, motivated by some self-willed understanding of what it means for God to be present in your life. Here's what I mean.

Because of the goodness of the gospel, the good news of the gospel, that God would step down into human history rejecting the perfection of heaven in the person of Jesus, live perfectly, die tragically at the hands of the very people he came to save, rise triumphantly, sit at the right hand of the Father, and intercede for all those who would believe, because of that good news, then we incline our hearts to put him at the center of our reality. Jesus is not an addendum to a life already figured out. He is not an add-on... If we're honest, even for those of us who have been disciples of Jesus for a long time, we spend a lot of our time living as functional atheists. We live that way. What do I mean by that? We live as though God does not exist until we think we need him. We make our decisions. We make our business deals. We live our lives. We raise our children. We go to our gyms. We go on our vacations. We progress through life. As long as we don't hit a bump… "Oh, I'm sure God is up there somewhere, but I have it figured out. I mean, he only created me and the world, but I will consult him on a need-to-know basis." None of us would say that out loud. I would never say that out loud, but I very much live that way in my life... How do we navigate the storms in our life? The first thing we do is practice pursuing the presence of Jesus, meaning we put him at the center of our reality, not as an addendum, not as an afterthought, not as the last resort solution, after we've exhausted all of our resources and all of our talent and all of our money and all of our ability. Not afterfirst. How do we respond to this?

2. Call on God before freaking out.

 I mean, there's nothing deeply theological about that, and yet at the same time, it is. What do we do? Something bad happens. That's what goes on in your mind...

3. Practice a life of frequent repentance

How do you keep Jesus at the center? Practice a life of frequent repentance. Martin Luther said all of life is repentance...

4. Talk about him joyfully in good times and bad

That's how you navigate the storm. That's how you keep Jesus at the center. 
Jesus' presence is a promise of peace. If you're a disciple of Jesus, then you've heard that before, but are you living that way? Are you living that way, or would you, like I have so many times, sit there and arrogantly think, "Well, I've heard this. This is simple gospel. Thank you."

The presence of God is a promise. It's a promise of a peace that can be yours, that can be possessed, that transcends every storm and every circumstance.


Focusing on who God is...

Here is an excerpt from The Overwhelmed Challenge 5 day reading plan by Perry Noble: 

Don’t look at what is wrong, look at who God is! I have found during my most stressful moments it is best if I just stop and focus on who God is. It’s a time when I set my requests aside and just seek HIM. I’ve made a list that helps me when I tend to freak out. 

God is:
  • SOVEREIGN — He reigns over everyone and everything and has never been stressed out. 
  • UNSTOPPABLE and so are those who follow Him. 
  • HOLY— God is perfect, which means everything He wants/desires for my life is far greater than anything I could have thought of. 
  • CONSISTENT — I don’t have to worry about Him being in a bad mood. 
  • GREATER than any temptation the enemy throws my way. 
  • BETTER than anything the world has to offer. 
  • BIGGER than any sin or failure in my life. 
  • GRACIOUS — He knows every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I’ve ever done (or will do), and yet He loves me anyway! 
  • ALWAYS here with me — God has NEVER walked away from me. He doesn’t always deliver me from the fire, but He has ALWAYS walked with me through it! 
  • FAITHFUL — If I fail to see His faithfulness in my past, I will probably not recognize the fruitfulness of my future. 
  • THE ONE WHO PURSUES ME — He pursues me even on the days I tend to walk away from Him. 
  • RELENTLESS — He has NEVER given up on me! 
  • PASSIONATE — His passion and zeal that the scriptures reveal cause me to be in AWE. I could go on and on, but what I want you to see is that when stress comes into our lives it is an awesome opportunity to KNOW GOD. 
So, if you are stressed out, freaked out and feel like you are about to give out, then “check out” for 10 minutes from your busy life, sit down with a piece of paper, make a list of who the scriptures say GOD IS, and focus on that rather than your circumstances.

  • Romans 5:8 
  • Isaiah 43:1-3
  • Philippians 1:6

Perry Noble just released a book on this topic that I want to check out when I get the chance!