Thursday, February 14, 2013

Salmon Jumping

A few years ago my husband and I were blessed to see the realization of a life-long dream … to take both sets of our parents on a cruise to Alaska.  It was beyond amazing to see the orchestration that only God could have done as we moved from port to port, event to event. Wonderful!

One of the many AMAZING sights we saw by “accident” (a God-incident in my heart for sure) was we “happened” upon this river and bridge where the salmon were battling up stream … UP the river and the huge falls to get back to the site of their origin. Their home. Hmmm.   They start at the sea!

As I was reading the following snippet from an email about the largest evangelistic outreach in the history of the Billy Graham Association which was sent today from Franklin Graham it reminded me of the Salmon. See if you can figure out why … 

“Our problems in this country are so huge that I believe we need a massive change to help stem the rising tide of evil. This is why moral, heartfelt transformation is really the only solution to the deadly and dangerous ills that are plaguing our nation. The Scripture says we need a new heart, not new legislation or regulations. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). 

New hearts are made as men and women respond to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Holy Spirit opens hearts and minds to believe in the Savior, and with repentance from sins people become new creations in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Moral reformation can then happen because there has been spiritual transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life … more abundantly” (John 10:10). This is the message of the Gospel, and we are called by God to spread this Good News to our neighbors, our nation, and a needy world. I hope you will join us. In this violent, sin-sick world, our only hope is the Prince of Peace”  Franklin Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Salmon do instinctively what we as humans BATTLE. They swim UPSTREAM, AGAINST the tide. Do we?
Well, we are called to do exactly that by scripture as followers of Jesus …  not to CONFORM to the world as this is not our home. Heaven is our home. We are to SWIM UPSTREAM to be different!  Check it out:

John 17:15-18 ESV “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Romans 12:2  (NIV) “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We are to be influencers of this world for Christ. We are to resist being influenced BY this world. Does this take discipline? (The “D” word that often gets a bad rap) Yes, it takes discipline. It takes willingness to swim upstream (as it does Salmon) and it needs to mean more to obey our Master (Jesus) than to worry about what other people think.  It takes putting IN the Word of God (using the discipline of reading and studying the Word of God) to transform our hearts from our natural bent of evil. We need to resist our bent to be a “follower of our sin nature and of bad influence” and be the influencer … not the influencee.

Is it easy to swim upstream, be different and not mindlessly follow the direction of the culture? (Or worse yet … knowingly run toward sin?) No, it is not easy. But we are called to “be holy as He is holy” 1 Peter 1:13-16.  If that goal for us was out of reach, as it may seem at times, our loving Father would not have asked us to do so. He will give us everything we need to obey Him. The bigger challenge is not this command to be holy (not a suggestion) but  surrendering to Him and being willing to obey Him … even if it isn’t comfortable or compliant with our culture or popular with friends? (Both Christians and those not in the Faith.) That is the BIGGER question we must wrestle with as Followers of Jesus.

Together Sisters (and Brothers) … let us be WILLING to obey and swim upstream … like the salmon. They go to great lengths to do so. How willing are we to do so?

Simple ideas but practical:  Protect our minds! Garbage In / Garbage Out!

  •  Turn the TV channel!  Choose to leave the room. Turn off the program. Maybe carefully choose what would be spiritually edifying to watch in the first place? Want better and cleaner programming on the TV? Let your fingers do the walking and turn it off or turn the channel. They are able to track your watching habits (don't ask me how) and money/ratings speak.    Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. “ NLT                                         
Do my choices ... do your choices line up with Phillipians 4:8?
  • Offensively put IN ideas, thoughts, stories, pictures that would be honoring to our Father. Defensively draw boundaries around and keep OUT those that we wouldn’t want to share directly with Jesus sitting beside us!  How about having a Quiet Time and reading through the Bible in a year, or just deciding to read Psalms during Lent to get started or doing Bible study to replace your favorite TV show if you know it is not honoring to the Lord? Read a great book! Pick up the phone and call to encourage someone.  You and I only have so many hours on this planet ... let's use them wisely. Purposefully!

  • Are you a parent? How about doing the same thing with those children that the Lord entrusted you with? What books are they reading? What games are they playing? What movies, TV programs and computer sites are they seeing?  Think it doesn’t affect them? Don’t kid yourself!  At the end of the day as they stand before their Maker and Father … want them to be godly people? Be responsible parents and while they are still in your care … help them learn to make godly decisions. Don’t throw them out to the culture wolves to make their own decisions as children (even teens) and hope they will survive. They likely will not. Then … when we as parents stand before the Lord … will we truly be able to say we did our BEST to help them learn to be HOLY as He is Holy? Hmmm.  

       Our children need to learn how to swim upstream like Salmon.  While they are under our care if we help them make wise, godly decisions when young then as they are teens, and we need to let them “take the steering wheel” little more by little more, they have a much better chance of surviving the oncoming world and becoming godly influencers!

Well, enough about fish!  Swim ladies and gentlemen! Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not for I am with you. Be not afraid for I am your God! I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious hand.” He will give you everything you need to help you swim upstream as a woman (man) or a parent. No giving up!