"Do not judge, and you will
not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37 (NIV)
I Live Each Day
This is where His grace comes in. Jesus paid the price for our sins. It's a done deal. Probably one of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16...
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Much time has passed between now and when I wrote the first sentences of this page. When I contemplate the world we live in and the challenges we face each and every day, I seem more and more clearly how much we need God.
I have been temporarily distracted from continuing this story. True to form, there was a reason for it. In the past, God had reasons for holding me back, as you will read on later pages of this story. Likewise, His hand was also on this delay. He wanted me to wait until Hurricane Ike.
Almost two weeks ago, hurricane Ike passed over Houston. Our house was in the center of the path and I can now say that I know what it's like to be in the eye of a hurricane.
Before the hurricane, God spoke to me repeatedly about the plague of the Egyptians and the Pass-Over (Exodus 12:7). Moses instructed the Israelites to mark their door frames with the blood of a lamb. In His message to me, before the hurricane, God said that Jesus is "The Lamb of God" and that his blood has already been spilt. As Christians, we have the same kind of protection from hurricanes and other kinds of harm as the Israelites had against the plague. I had a vision of Christ's blood marking the doors of our house, while angry winds howled all around us - not able to touch us because of God's protection.
I praise God that we don't have more of a story to tell. Ike split one of our trees and it feel between our house and the neighbor's. If it had fallen five degrees in either direction from where it did, it would have damaged one of our houses for certain. The way the tree landed, it's amazing no damage occurred to house. Like I said, there's really nothing to tell.
And that may seem anticlimactic in a world where great stories are made out of the greatest tragedies. But the great story here is that God is sovereign. The fact that nothing happened is a testimony of His greatness.
As a matter of fact, I am sitting here now, almost two weeks later, using my computer, sitting in the air conditioning and enjoying the comforts of modern life as if nothing had happened. We had our power restored within twenty-four hours when most of the people in our neighborhood still don't have electricity today. Our home was one of only about ten in the entire subdivision that had power. The outage extended for many miles in every direction. There is no doubt that God has found favor on us.
But it doesn't take a hurricane to motivate God to send blessings our way.
I remember when a friend of mine told me that he doesn't ask God about/for the little things because he thinks God is too busy taking care of more serious matters. I disagree. I don't think there are any limitations to how much God can bless us and, in fact, I believe it is a sign of how close we are in our relationships with Him when we trust Him for so many of the so called "little things".
You may be surprised by the kinds of things you can rely on God for. Many of them are things that most people would think are crazy:
Waking Up On Time
Whenever I have an early gig that requires me to wake before what I'm used to, I commonly pray for God to wake me in the morning so I don't miss the gig. (This happens far less often now, simply because I normally wake at 5:30 on week days.)
Good Deals While Shopping
I commonly ask the Holy Spirit to show me where the best specials are. Getting a good deal is just as good of a blessing as receiving money. A penny saved is a penny earned, right?
Peace In Practice
A lot of practice techniques involve repetition. The more you repeat something, the more you internalize it and the easier it is to play. I use the "peace compass" to help me determine how many times something needs to be repeated. When I have God's peace, I know I can move to the next level.
I enjoy taking pictures of birds. I'm not a true ornithologist and I don't take it as serious as some do, but this kind of thing brings me great pleasure. There have been many times when I asked God to bring me a new species to take a picture of and He has complied.
In trying to establish new businesses, I have found a need for a business mentor. I can't do all of this stuff myself and I NEED advice from people who have done it before. Many of the business books I've read talk about developing relationships with a mentor. But the Holy Spirit is my mentor.
For an example of what the Holy Spirit has shared with me as my Business Mentor, read this post about Advertizing and the Fruits of the Flesh.
Working On My Car
I used to call my father for help when I needed to work on my cars. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago and there is no one else I really feel comfortable about calling anymore. The first time I had to work on my car after my father died, I was actually kind of nervous. I didn't know if I could fly solo without that safety net. I relied on my father's experience and mechanical wisdom so much that I was anxious about diagnosing the problem myself. So, instead of calling my father, I called upon my heavenly Father and the result was truly miraculous. I had the car fixed in record time because God took me straight to the problem.
I could list these things for a good long time. I will admit that I don't rely on God for everything, but that is my goal. That is where I'd like to be in my relationship with Him.
Sometimes the little things don't seem to add up to much for the people I talk to. They think these things are insignificant. But when you live day to day, trusting God in the little things, then the big blessings are more readily had. Here are some stories about some of the big things I have trusted God for...
A perfect example of this is how we got our most recent vehicle. I used to drive an Oldsmobile Intrigue. It was a very odd vehicle. When I spoke to a professional repairman at the dealer, he told me that my vehicle was an odd mix of parts which culminated as a result of a politically correct experiment to mix parts from all over the world.
That car died one night on the way home from a gig. I'm convinced it was bad enough to need an engine overhaul and the cost would have been prohibitive. It would have actually cost more than the blue book value of the car.
I got out of the car, walked off the freeway and walked around the area for a while, praying for God to help me. It wasn't just the inconvenience of having to tow the vehicle and getting it fixed. We are a one car family and this was the only transportation we had to get to gigs.
But God spoke to me that night and told me that everything was going to be okay. I called a tow truck and we took the vehicle home. When the car was almost off the truck, the driver asked me what I was going to do with it. I said I didn't know and that I might donate it to one of those charities that ask for junked cars. What else was I to do with it?
He offered me something like $50 cash for the Olds and I agreed. All the while, the Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear, "everything is going to be okay".
I set the alarm extra early the next morning because I needed to call the Greg, the music minister at my church (Quail Valley Church), to tell him that I wouldn't be able to make it that morning. I told him what happened to my car.
That's when Greg told me that him and his wife were praying the night before about who they could give their Ford Explorer to. He told me, if I could find a ride to church, I could ride with him to his house after church to pick up the Explorer and take it home.
God had replaced my Olds Intrigue within twelve hours of when it died on the freeway. Isn't He amazing?
There are two times when I feel closest to God. Hmmm.... That's not the way I should say it. God is always close, but I'm not always listening to Him when He speaks to me. So let me say it that way; there are two things that help me listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to me. The first is walking and the second is practicing music.
God speaks to me when I walk, so I walk a lot. I want to hear Him as much as possible. I even have a post it to remind me, it has been stuck to my back door for years now. It says, "Walk with me.". Every time I see it, I am reminded that God speaks to me this way.
When I don't walk, my life seems to spin in any random direction and I lose focus on what's most important in life.
The same is true to a lesser extent with practicing. I almost always have a pen and paper with me when I practice because the Holy Spirit whispers important messages to me while I'm playing scales, long tones, etudes or whatever.
I understand that this is different for everyone. Different people hear from God in different ways. I recently read a book that said God speaks to him through movies. That's certainly very different from the way He speaks to me. But I can guarantee you something that was ALL have in common. We all get into the Word.
You cannot hear from God if you ignore what He has already said in the Bible. The first step in getting closer to God is reading His Word.
This wasn't originally part of the story. I hadn't seen the two subjects as being related until about two years ago when I started collecting my old work to compile it for presentation. The Holy Spirit told me that I should use these pictures as visual aids during my presentation. I was confused. What did these embarrassing photos have to do with An Expression of Grace?
But I trusted Him and put the photos aside for this very moment. But now I understand what it's all about. It's not a coincidence that I was obese and dangerously hypertensive before God showed me the truth about stage fright and performance anxiety. It's also not a coincidence that I lost most of that weight and corrected my blood pressure within eighteen months of that performance at my home town (you can read about that performance on page two of this story).
I'm not sure why I never made the connection between the two. I guess part of me wanted to take credit for taking charge of my life and getting healthy. But realizing I was taking credit for God's work is far more embarrassing than showing you a few photos.
That was a very different me.
The photos above were taken around the 1997. It was the same general time period as when I played the concert that turned everything around.
I'm not sure what the relationship is between the weight and "An Expression of Grace". I think the underlying message here is that, when you walk in God's will, things always go better for you. These pictures are proof.
The following picture was taken not long after the first three. Notice I am still wearing the same glasses. I made this new picture because my old "promo shots" were all obese and I didn't see the sense in having out dated photos that looked WORSE than I did in real life. That's backwards, isn't it?
This picture shows an Eddie Lewis who is eighty pounds lighter than the his previous obese state. I used to take credit for losing that weight. I was a fool for doing so. Looking back, I realize now that I was being blessed by God for walking in his will.
He brought my youth back! I didn't only look younger, I felt it. I feel it now. Being heavy like I was had come close to killing me, not with a heart attack or stroke, but with old age and fatigue. I was SO tired all the time.
I have to believe that trusting God in both the little things and the big things is what lead to Him blessing me this way. He has blessed me in so many ways that now I have come to rely on Him so much that I can't imagine living any other way.
I actually used to be afraid to say those words, "the Holy Spirit told me". And truthfully, one SHOULD be careful when they attribute things they say to the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is what Jesus was talking about when He said that there was only one sin that was unforgivable (Mark 3:22-30 and Matthew 12:21-32), and that is the sin against the Holy Spirit. I don't know what that sin is. I hear there is a huge debate about what that one sin is. But sitting here thinking and writing about it, I'm wondering if maybe this is what it means, to attribute things to Him that are not truly from Him.
But there are also numerous examples in the Bible of people who God spoke to but didn't deliver the message. Jona comes to mind.
But in my life, I have been more open about this lately than I ever had been before. I am not afraid to say the words, "The Holy Spirit told me...." the way I used to be. I think it's important that people know that we can indeed have a meaningful and very real relationship with Jesus.
It's interesting I should be writing about this now. Just a few days ago, someone from the Jehovah's Whiteness church came to my home and we had a short conversation. This man attempted to make a big deal with me about the name "Jehovah" in an effort to prove that there was no trinity and that there is no triune God. I asked him if he believes in the Holy Spirit and if he knows that the Holy Spirit can speak to us and guide us throughout the day.
The man answered my question with a question...."Do you???" he asked!!! He laughed.
Yes, I do. I told him what I've been telling you throughout this page. I rely on the Holy Spirit for more and more things as I grow more mature in my relationship with Jesus. I'm no longer afraid to tell people that the Holy Spirit tells me things.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
1 Peter 5:5-7
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
All of the people who I have ever known, who impressed me with their ability to control their own lives and be such a driving force in other people's lives, they all eventually cracked under the pressure. Some of them died for it. The ones who died were very dear friends of mine. I don't criticize them for the way they were, but I can see how things would have been different for them if they knew Christ.
When things in our lives get so out of control and they seem so far beyond our power to fix, it's because it's true. We are not capable of doing it all ourselves. We can do well for a while. We can get our lives under control under our own wills for the short term, but it simply doesn't last.
The good news is that God is right there, waiting to step in and save us with His miraculous presence. When we fall, He is there to lift us up. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and short comings, He is there to bless us with His strength. Then, walking in his will becomes a source of endless strength and endurance. Relying on God this way leads to supernatural abilities in every aspect of your life.
1) Do you rely on God for everything in your life?
2) What about the little things? Do you ask God to help you with the tedious tasks you face on a day to day basis?
3) Do you think you can do it all yourself? Or are you someone who has tried but can't ever seem to do the right thing or to do it well enough on your own?
4) Are you tired all the time? This is a sign that you may be walking outside of God's will. God wants to help you, but a lot of what we do in our lives is the equivalent of turning our backs on Him. If you are tired all the time, do you see anything in your life that may have cut God out of your daily life?